By Neto Baptiste
The Antigua and Barbuda Tennis Association (ABTA) is set to host its International Tennis Federation (ITF) tournament, the Antigua and Barbuda Cup, for the first time since 2019 when they put on the event in the second quarter of 2022.
This is according to head of the association, Cordell Williams, who said the tournament has already been placed on the ITF calendar.
“The calendar for the ITF COTECC is already out and the Antigua and Barbuda Tennis Association (ABTA) is due to host our first tournament if all goes well, in May, the Antigua Cup. So come January we will be doing the work we need to do in order to pull off that first tournament,” he said.
“Our junior players continue to train but the disadvantage is that the under-14s in girls and boys would have missed two years of competing in that age category, so they will now have to play in the under-18 which is going to be a lot tougher because while we were locked down, in places like Dominican Republic, Costa Rica and Mexico there were tournaments going on,” he added.
The news, Williams said, is welcoming to the fraternity as although some aspects of the sport were allowed to continue during the implementation of government restrictions, there was a general lack of competition over the past two years.
“We were one of the fortunate sports that managed to continue during the pandemic and we continued to work with our junior players, but what we found happening is that they started getting demotivated because there was nothing to look forward to in terms of competition but from the standpoint of the tennis clubs, we organised matches for them on the weekend just to keep them match ready for next year,” the tennis boss said.
Williams assured that the tournament, if allowed to move forward, will be held within strict health protocols.
“We would have to see the criteria in terms of the protocol guidelines so we can have that out on the ITF website early as to the requirements once we are going to host that tournament but it is already on the calendar for us to host,” he said.
The Antigua and Barbuda Cup was last hosted in 2019 with tournaments carded for 2020 and 2021 cancelled due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.