‘They gerrymandered the draw’: Tennis official says Cotecc draw was designed to work against A&B Under-12s

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Pictured alongside the winning T&T team (in red) are Antigua and Barbuda’s Niike Hughes (second from right) and Giovanni Quinn (second from left) with their medals
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By Neto Baptiste

Secretary of the Antigua and Barbuda Tennis Association (ABTA), Peter Quinn, has accused organisers of the recently held International Tennis Federation (ITF) COTECC Under-12 Championships in Trinidad of moving the proverbial goal post in a deliberate attempt to stymie Team Antigua.

Speaking on the Good Morning Jojo Sports Show, Quinn, who also coached the team in Trinidad, questioned both the make-up of the groups and a later decision to scrap the traditional playoff between the four top teams across Groups A and B.

“We suspect that they sort of gerrymandered the draw to work against us in that there were two groups: Group A and Group B, and they put us in Group A. Now, Group A had the toughest teams in Antigua, Trinidad’s A team, Suriname, the United States Virgin Islands and Guyana, and then in Group B you had the Trinidad B team as the number one seeded team, Barbados, Grenada and St. Lucia,” he said.

“I think what they did on the first day was they did some scouting and they recognised that based on the play, the Antigua team was very strong, so they put us in that group so that our chances of advancing would have been minimised,” he added. 

Antigua and Barbuda did not advance to the next round of the competition despite finishing second in Group A, losing only to Trinidad and Tobago. Reports are that rain interrupted the opening days of the championships, forcing organisers to abandon the four-team playoff to decision the first and second place finishers.

Asked if the tennis association plans to put their concerns in writing, Quinn said a decision was taken to “just leave it alone.”

“We verbally expressed our concerns, but I consulted with the president [Cordell Williams] and he said to just leave it. We would have made a mental note of it, and there is a record of us having complained, but in terms of formally writing, we will move on from there,” he said. 

Quinn commended the youngsters for showing grit and determination.

“Given that the preparations were short, given that the preparations were not as we wanted them to be because they had just come out of school, we were challenged with respect to the availability of the coaches, and so on, so we had to scramble to put on a programme to get them prepared for the Under-12s. So given the circumstances, I think they punched above their weight and we are proud of the performance,” he said.

In their Group A quest, Antigua and Barbuda triumphed in three of their four ties [a series comprising two singles and one doubles match], losing only to Trinidad and Tobago by a 2-1 margin. Team Antigua and Barbuda defeated Suriname, USVI and Guyana all by 2-1 margins.

Trinidad and Tobago emerged winners of the group after claiming all four of their ties, while Barbados advanced from Group B and will advance to the playoffs in Mexico.

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