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Big push for road tennis

Sherrylyn A. Toppin

Big push for road tennis

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Barbados’ indigenous sport road tennis is getting some much-needed international exposure through a video being watched by thousands on the Internet.
The video features tennis star Andy Murray; Britain’s heavyweight boxing champion David Haye; another Brit in No. 1 pop singer Example as well as Barbadian road tennis maestro Sylvan “Lama” Barnett.
It is an official production by sporting giant Adidas and has been posted on their website and of course on YouTube. It is also making the rounds on Facebook.
Only 2:21 minutes, it is short but impactful, opening with Barnett doing prep work on the court. It cuts to Murray, the world No. 3 tennis player, receiving an envelope which contains a challenge.
“You have one hour to learn the ins and outs of Barbadian road tennis,” Murray reads, “then you’re taking on Barbados’ finest. Interesting.”
With a nod of the head, Murray goes to do just that.
He is greeted by Dale Clarke, president of the Professional Road Tennis Association (PRTA), who gives him a racquet and ball and tells him the rules are the same as table tennis.
He receives a tutorial from Barnett and they begin a knock when Haye turns up and plays a few shots with Barnett, then a match with Murray.
Murray is a quick study, easily dispatching Haye and then taking on Barnett. He jumps to an early 6-2 lead, and extends it to 9-4 before Barnett rallies to beat him 21-16.
There is a lot of joking around and laughter which presents the sport as fun and entertaining.
Clarke told SUNSPORT it was a first for the PRTA and took about three months to plan after he and Joe Weston of We Are Social came up with the concept. Adidas is one of their clients and they organized the event which took place on November 14.
“Everyone was excited. Andy was amazed that it was just a lawn tennis ball without the fur and how fast it was moving,” Clarke said.
Both he and Haye seemed keen on putting a court in their backyard or driveway.
Since the video hit the Internet, there has been quite a bit of interest from Australia, Nigeria, England, United States and the Caribbean.
“We are using the video as a promotional tool for the sport,” Clarke said.
“It would bring international exposure to the sport because Adidas posted it on their website and Youtube, so it is getting a lot of interest from places around the world. People have been going to our website and contacting me via email.”
Through contacts recently made, Clarke said they hoped to partner with businesses in the various countries and set up coaching clinics so others can learn to play.
“We Are Social is connected with a lot of brands. We did a lot of interviews.
“We did an interview with Tennishead, the biggest tennis magazine in the world. So there isa possibility that a lot of potential sponsors can see and with the contact we have with Adidas, the major sporting brands would be aware of it since Adidas did such a good production,” he said.