Parish tourney a real treat
I’M?JOINING?THE ROAD TENNIS BANDWAGON TODAY as I enjoyed what was served up at Dover last weekend.
No praise is too high for Minister of Sport Stephen Lashley and his team from the National Sports Council (NSC), led by chairman Seibert Straughn and director of sport Erskine King, along with the other organizers of the Inter-parish Road Tennis Fournament like Philip “Foff” Garner.
The setting for the two-day finals last Friday and Saturday reminded one of an international event staged in the United States, England or Australia.
The idea to erect a large tent over the basketball court at Dover as a contingency in the event of rain was a stroke of genius.
Spectators seated courtside inside the tent watching the action was simply a wonderful sight. Not only the die-hard road tennis fans were there; also present were the curious, visitors and even some dignitaries.
Also on hand were several children and the high standard of tennis that they saw during the exhibition between seven-year-old Tejay Beckles and 11-year-old Nicholas Ifill was unbelievable.
Most of the “A” Class players, such as the incomparable Julian “Michael Jackson” White and others like Anthony “Ears” Mitchell, are in their 40s but it would appear the future of the game is in excellent hands.
But the tent really enhanced the finals and one hopes that other sporting associations can utilize tents of similar size for some of their outdoor events, especially when the Gymnasium of the Garfield Sobers Sports Complex is not available.
I’m sure that netball can be played under the same tent and new president of the Barbados Netball Association, Nisha Cummins, who was present, along with a group of former national netballers, probably would’ve taken note of the possibilities.
Boxing is another sport that could be staged under such a tent. I would also suggest that the NSC look at the feasibility of actually acquiring one of those tents. Not only could it be used for NSC activities, it could also be rented out.
Road tennis has seemingly received a major lift with massive media coverage, especially by the NATION newspaper, starting with the Belfield tournament, continuing with the Silver Hill tournament and culminating with the NSC’s inter-parish showpiece.
That this indigenous game was televised live on the CBCTV8 for the second straight year speaks volumes.
Close to 2 000 people converged at Dover, and again Minister Lashley must be commended for making it possible for the sport to be exposed to a national television audience.
In an interview at the end of the Silver Hill Community Tournament, Lashley said he would be pushing for a world tournament.
I sincerely believe this is possible, and it is up to him and his competent teams of NSC officials like Straughn, King, assistant director Mona Alleyne and deputy director Neil Murrell to put the wheels in motion.
On the actual tournament, it was a pity that Christ Church did not have the services of their two best players at the moment, Mitchell and the previously unknown Victor “Earth” Ward.
What I didn’t like was the decision to allow White to sit out the preliminaries for St Michael.
That might be okay for an invitational tournament where the top seed is given a bye and only enters at a certain stage but in a parish competition, where every player is fighting to represent their parish, the same situation and regulations must exist for every team as each parish could also demand that their best players be given a free ride. Not even Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer is afforded such luxury at Wimbledon or any Grand Slam event!
I know there are several outstanding players in St Michael, and all of them cannot be accommodated in the “A” Class, but to have a player with the ability of Mark “Venom” Griffith competing in the “B” Class just didn’t seem right.
It raises the question: who determines “A” and “B” class players and what criterion is used to arrive at such decisions?
Additionally, I would suggest that each parish be represented by three players in both the “A” and “B” classes instead of just two as is the case now.
That would eliminate the current tiebreaker system which is used to determine the overall result of matches in the event a player from each team wins his contest. Each parish should also play an equal number of matches to reach the knockout quarter-final phase.
But nothing can take away from the spectacle that was put on last weekend. Take a bow, organizers.