Blackman hails progress
THE EFFORTS to lift local tennis aren’t going unnoticed.
Former Barbados star Martin Blackman believes the sport is on the way up, having lauded the sacrifices made by the Barbados Tennis Association (BTA) and individual coaches to ensure the country’s juniors get the best international exposure.
The Florida-based coach and academy director expressed the sentiment in a wide-ranging interview with WEEKEND SPORT after hosting several of Barbados’ best young players over the past three summers.
“I haven’t seen this level of involvement before where everyone is making this big commitment to take our best juniors to international events, to ITF events in the Caribbean and to bring them up here for the Orange Bowl,” said Blackman.
“Then I see the kids that Sydney [Lopez] brings up, I’m seeing 15 to 20 players that are able to compete at an international level and will be able to get full scholarships to universities and that’s really good for the sport and Barbados.
“So I’m very encouraged by the organization of not only the BTA, where I see a lot of leadership coming from the national association, but I am also seeing a lot of initiative coming from the private sector, as Sydney and Christopher [King] and other private coaches on the island are really making sacrifices,” he added.
??A one-time pro who reached as high as No.150 in the world, Blackman has remained heavily involved in Barbados’ tennis despite moving to Florida by way of his academy where he has helped to coach the country’s best young players.
And none bigger than Darian King, Barbados’ top-ranked pro who has made a serious assault on the world rankings during his first three years tour under Blackman’s continued tutelage.
“I see this as part of my responsibility to help the next generation to go farther than I did, and it’s really just a privilege to be able to give back,” said Blackman.
“Part of the reason I am also so committed to helping Darian to reach his goals is that when I was his age there were a lot of people who helped me to get the success that I achieved. Without those people I would never be where I am.
“But again I’m just his secondary coach. It’s Sydney and Chris who are his coaches and put in the real sacrifice in terms of their own time and money.
“So Barbadians should be very proud and cognizant of what they are both doing for tennis in Barbados,” he added.
King is expected to resume his training with Blackman from Monday when he will start intensive strength and conditioning work in Florida before returning later this month ahead of the Davis Cup tie against Chile.
“I think he has improved his movement and his backhand considerably as his forehand has always been a weapon, but for him to get to the next level he will have to improve his serve,” Blackman reasoned.
“He has a pretty good serve but we want him to have a really good one where he can hold at will and just focus on getting the necessary breaks to win games easily.”