Gardner: No One Can Stop Me From Representing Country

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National tennis player, Kevin Gardner, says he will continue to represent Antigua and Barbuda on the professional circuit despite an expulsion by the Antigua and Barbuda Tennis Association (ABTA) stating he is no longer eligible to play under the country’s flag.
Gardner, while speaking on the Good Morning Jojo Sports Show on Wednesday, argues that he is a born Antiguan and has the right to play for his country.
“I will be heading to Texas Thursday evening or Friday morning to participate in a tournament under the Antigua and Barbuda flag because I am a born Antiguan, born and raised, I wasn’t naturalized so no one can ever take away my right to represent the country of my birth and I will be playing under the Antigua flag for the rest of my life,” he said.
Gardner, on October 1, was informed of his expulsion as a member of the tennis association and that he is no longer eligible to represent the twin-island state. The development follows an incident at the Davis Cup which was held in Costa Rica in June this year. 
The player was given an opportunity to mount a defense either in person or in writing to the tennis association during its recent meeting but opted not to do so.
Gardner still believes however that the process was not transparent.
“I’ve seen cases on TV where criminals, convicted murderers, they get a trial or a hearing before they get a sentencing where you look at the facts, you look at both sides of the story and then you determine who is wrong, who is right and then you lay down judgement and I was never given that opportunity. I was given two options which were withdraw or be expelled without hearing my side of the story,” the player said.
Asked what he felt may have caused the fallout with the tennis association, Gardner said he became frustrated with what he labelled the “unprofessionalism” within the body.
“At some point in time you expect things to get better, you expect it to change drastically overnight but we are talking about a period from eight years old and nothing has changed within the sporting arena in Antigua so at some point in time you get frustrated and you speak out,” he said.
“Before I went public, I’ve spoken to past presidents in private and every single year it’s the same thing over and over and as an athlete, when you got to participate all you want to do is just show up and play, you don’t want to worry about the funding or my uniform is not correct but you are never in the situation where you can just show up and give your best effort possible and represent your country,” he added.
The expulsion was handed down during an extraordinary general meeting held by the tennis association last Friday, during which it was noted that several letters to the player inviting him to mount a defence either in person or in writing to the association, went unanswered. According to a letter sent to Gardner on October 1, the body voted “unanimously” to expel him as a member and that he could appeal the decision within 30 days from the date of the letter.

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