ITF ‘expert’ to visit Antigua

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The Antigua & Barbuda Tennis Association (ABTA) stands to benefit from an International Tennis Federation (ITF) programme that will see at least one management expert visit the twin-island state in October.
The unnamed ITF expert, according to President of the ABTA, Cordell Williams, will not only look at ways of improving the all-round management of the sport here, but will focus on finding ways of improving the free programme on offer to all young players at the National Tennis Center located at Camp Site.
“In October, we should be having an expert here to meet with the association, meet with the Ministry of Sports and to see how we can bridge that gap, because I have tried many things and they are not working, so we will have an expert from the International Tennis Federation here for about 10 days to see how, and try once more to get that programme going,” he said.
The programme, which is opened to all schools and geared towards bringing new talent to the fore, has not lived up to its expectations according to Williams. This, he adds, is threatening the growth of the sport.
“It’s not going the way we would like it because we are not getting the turnout we are looking for. Where I operate at Halcyon tennis courts, I have between 20 to 30 children that I am working with, and at the center you only have about four or five when the center should be doubling the amount of children I work with,” he said.
“For tennis to continue and for the junior programme to continue growing, we need to have a lot more juniors coming through that programme and that’s how we want the programme to continue to grow, to have more of the students within the schools programme come out and challenge some of the children in the private clubs,” the president added.
Parents, the former player said, also have a role to play in the development of the young players.
“If the child has talent and you identify and tell the parent, and the parents are not going to make that sacrifice, then you are not going to be in my programme because my programme is looking for players to not only represent but to also go on to university,” Williams said.
“All of the players that come through the programme at Halcyon are now in school and that’s what the programme is all about because I am not running a social club. I am looking for players to represent the country,” he added.
Williams is currently in Guatemala with a three-member all-girls national under-12 tennis team competing at the ITF/COTECC Under-12 Championships.

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