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By Neto Baptiste

The absence of adequate financial support – coupled with the complexities associated with the Covid-19 pandemic – have forced Antigua and Barbuda to withdraw from this year’s Davis Cup tennis competition.

This was revealed by President of the Antigua and Barbuda Tennis Association (ABTA), Cordell Williams, who said the usual assistance rendered to the association by funding agencies were not readily available, taking into consideration that this year will also host the postponed 2020 Olympic Games.

“We could not secure the financial requirement to purchase the tickets for the team to travel on the 14th of June,” he said.

“Our next hurdle was that we had to make sure that all of our players took the vaccine — which we know for sure that one hasn’t — and the professional player on the team, Jody Maginley, is injured. Two of the other members from last year are unavailable in Shakir Elvin and Kyle Joseph, so that would have left us with a completely new team led by Cordell Williams Jr, and we just didn’t have the finance to put the team together.

In March, Williams had said that the country’s participation was unlikely, given the global pandemic.

The tennis association boss hinted that concerns for the health of players during the competition also weighed heavily on the body’s decision.

“There’s eight teams, and with five players per team, that’s 40 players, and having 40 plus people in an environment that you are not really sure of their Covid situation would be convenient for us to take part this year. We hope that next year this gets better and we’d be able to continue our Davis Cup quest,” he said. 

As for possible sanctions for opting out of the major tournament, Williams said everything was done by the book and the country should be exempted from paying fines or fees.

“We pulled out before the deadline so we will not be sanctioned. When we registered the team we said we were registering based on if the Covid situation was under control and that our health people gave us the okay to go. I know the letter went off [to the Davis Cup organizers] and so far, no sanction has taken place as yet,” the president said.

Antigua and Barbuda finished 7th from among 11 teams which competed in Zone Three of the Americas group in the 2019 edition of the tournament.