By Neto Baptiste
Antigua and Barbuda’s lone professional tennis player, Jody Maginley, believes players are not exposed to enough competitive tennis at the national level which would prepare them for the more competitive professional circuit.
The player, who currently has an international ranking of 1275 in singles and 679 in doubles by the ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals), remembered playing countless matches during school league cricket but said young tennis players today are not exposed to that much competition.
“We had the Halcyon tennis club and Jolly Beach Hotel and Carlisle Bay and Curtain Bluff so there was little competition in between and, from my experience, the older I got was the less and less that [competition] got and that drives a lot of people,” he said.
“When I played cricket and I am playing under-15 for Antigua Grammar School [AGS] and we played Jennings or we played St Joseph’s Academy and the games were close and we lost then we want to come back the next day, and that sort of drives us to want to play again and there is not much like that in Antigua for tennis,” he added.
Maginley, the son of former national tennis player and former minister of sports John Maginley and Gisele Hadeed, said that although he was probably exposed to a bit more tennis at a younger age as he had the opportunity to travel and play during the summer, he is still not where he needs to be as a professional player.
“From my own perspective I have not made it yet and I don’t think I am to the level where I think I should be or where I think I have the potential to be, so in my opinion I have not made it yet and I don’t know if anyone has trained consistently enough and spent enough time on court to be able to make it at that level.
“When I was growing up we had a good group of guys around us when I was in the under-12s and under-13s, but the older we got they chose different paths and that’s understandable,” he said.
Asked if he is disappointed that Antigua and Barbuda pulled out of last year’s Davis Cup, Maginley said he fully understood the association’s decision.
“Obviously I am disappointed and I wish we would have fielded a team but we also have expectations knowing that it is not easy financially for the federation and the country to be able to field a team every year.
“My success has probably driven Antigua to be able to support a team every year because it would have been tough without me playing so although I would have liked for us to field a team I understand why we didn’t,” he said.
Maginley is back on the court following a one-year absence due to a hip injury and subsequent surgery.
The player said he is finding his way back from a competitive standpoint and looking forward to his first competition when he plays in the M15 Naples, Florida Tournament, starting February 14.