By Neto Baptiste
The Antigua and Barbuda Tennis Association (ABTA), through the Antigua and Barbuda National Olympic Committee (ABNOC), has applied for a wildcard entry into this year’s Junior Pan American Games slated for November 25 to December 5 in Columbia.
This is according to president of the national association, Cordell Williams, who revealed that national youth player, Sibley Charles, has been named as the country’s top option to receive the slot.
“As it stands at the moment, for the last two years none of our junior players have been competitive on the circuit. Most of the tournaments are being played in Mexico and the Dominican Republic. However, because of Covid, none of our juniors have been traveling so they haven’t really been playing so none of our junior players have ranking but we applied for a wildcard for Sibley Charles based on her progress over the years coming up and we are hoping she might be successful in receiving that wildcard to the Pan American Games,” he said.
Williams said that seeking a wildcard entry is not a norm for Antigua and Barbuda but added that a lack of accessible tournaments for juniors due to the ongoing Ccovid-19 pandemic, has contributed to a dip in qualifications across the region.
“It is not really Antigua but across the whole Caribbean because only two players from the Caribbean region [have qualified] then you can see that the whole Caribbean has been suffering because of Covid and tennis is an individual sport and it means you have to be competitive in terms of getting your ranking points so no matter how good you are or how good you were before Covid, if you are not competitive right now, it means that you are off the radar,” he said.
The tennis boss is hopeful that once accepted, a number of other tournaments could be used as warm up and preparation for the young Charles ahead of the international junior championships.
“She has been training but training and competition are two different hurdles so even though in training you look good, we don’t know how you would perform on the match itself because that is two completely different areas because someone would look really good training but when they get into the competition the pressure and because you’ve not been playing competitive matches for a while then nerves may have a lot to do with it in terms of you getting your foot it,” Williams said.
“I am hoping that if she does get through that there are a couple of tournaments in Mexico and the Dominican Republic so hopefully we would be able to secure some funding from the NOC to at least get her to play at least one or two tournaments before they go and play that competition,” he added. A total of 312 events in 27 sports are scheduled to be contested at the games later this year.