Road tennis’ cul-de-sac
ROAD TENNIS in Barbados is in the doldrums and no one is seemingly motivated enough to give this indigenous sport the push it badly needs to lift it to new heights.
Think for a moment about the many speeches we have heard about the potential of road tennis to become a money spinner through the export of rackets and other equipment.
It is sad to report that we are still trying to scratch the surface after years of numerous tournaments, promotional trips to England and other places, and the setting up of a world body.
The glaring lack of action from this seemingly non-existent world body, the need of a place to call home for the sport, and the absence of young players in the sport are some of the major areas of concern.
Let me deal first with the running of the sport. For the past few years, road tennis has been crying out for direction and it seems the world body which was set up a few years ago with a lot of fanfare has gone to sleep on the job.
It is probably easier to bring down the cost of living than to get simple correspondence from the association as to what are its plans for the sport. For example, we are into the fifth month of the year and there has been no word from the association as to what its plans are to take the sport to another level.
Probably the only road tennis tournament we can mark down on our calendar is the BNB Racquets of Fire which is organised by someone without any affiliation to this body.
Let me move on to the issue of a home for the sport. Don’t get me wrong. There are many places in Barbados where road tennis is played with a lot of passion, as was the case back in March, in Lodge Hill.
It was a new venue and attracted good spectator support over the three weeks of action. However, I believe that a facility which is covered will give a much needed boost to this sport. Many tournaments have been ruined because rain played havoc with matches.
The facility in Bush Hall is probably the most developed, with three courts and some seating for spectators, but if this facility is the one that is being earmarked for development as the home for the sport then it is time that a roof is placed on it so players can practise and participate in tournaments day or night without the fear of rain ruining proceedings.
I recall a few years ago during an election campaign a politician making a bold prediction that an indoor facility for road tennis would be built in his constituency within a year. So much for that promise, or – as some would say – election gimmick.
We need someone or some entity to stand up on behalf of road tennis players and fans and lobby Government or some private entity to provide a home for the sport.
It was instructive to see a picture in a recent newspaper with a road tennis demonstration being conducted at the World Trade Expo in Shanghai, China. I have sounded this warning before, that while that type of exposure for the sport is great, if we do not pay more attention to road tennis in Barbados we may one day discover that its home may end up in Paris, London or even China.
And finally, where are the young players in the sport? Believe it or not in 2010, the finals of our major tournaments are still being contested and dominated by players who are well over 40, such as Julian “Michael Jackson” White and Anthony “Ears” Mitchell.