Pandemic Continues To Dampen Tennis Growth, President Still Fighting To Keep Players Motivated

ABTA President Cordell Williams Senior lamented on how the ongoing pandemic continues to hamper the sport.
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By Carlena Knight

With two years having passed since tennis has been played competitively in the country, President of the local body Cordell Williams Sr has shared his concern over the prospect of losing promising potential players.

Williams, while speaking on the Good Morning JoJo Sports show yesterday, explained that he has been trying to find various ways to keep his junior players motivated as it is challenging for players to compete in the regional tournaments.

“Majority of the top juniors is from my club, Halcyon Tennis Club, and I am trying to keep them motivated. During the weekends, we organize matches between but that’s still not the same as them playing overseas. One of the things that we are looking at with St Lucia and St Kitts is to see how we can organize inter-island practice on the weekends. Like one weekend, we would probably take a few players to St Kitts and St Kitts would do likewise and we would all compete that weekend. We have to try and find a way to keep our players motivated,” Williams said.

It was because of that lack of access to regional competitions why the twin-island nation despite registering four players for the upcoming Junior Pan Am Games saw none being accepted.

The local body did however apply through the Antigua and Barbuda National Olympic Committee (ABNOC) for a wildcard entry into this year’s competition for Sibley Charles.

Williams revealed that this is an issue plaguing other Caribbean countries as well as only two players from region qualified.

The effects of the pandemic is also being felt where the regional junior rankings are concerned, as Antigua and Barbuda has now moved to having no players on the list.

This is a drastic change from 2019, when the country boasted four players being featured in the rankings.

Nevertheless, the tennis head is hoping to change that lack of access to competitive tournaments.

“We are hoping next year that things can get better in our region so we can start back our tournament calendar. I had booked for us to start the Antigua Cup in April/May of next year provided things improve,” Williams explained. “One of the things that the ITF is looking at now is when you organize these tournaments the players will all have to stay at one resort in one bubble. Two tournaments had to be cancelled because parents travelled to tournaments and were out shopping and moving around with the children and once one got affected by Covid, you had to cancel the whole event and that didn’t go down too well with, you know, sponsors and so and people who would have spent money to go to these tournaments. Majority of these tournaments are taking place in Mexico and the Dominican Republic and so forth and that’s a little bit costly for us to attend those events so it has been tough for us to keep our junior players motivated,” he added.

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