Two potholes in road tennis’ organisation
Barbados’ indigenous of sport road tennis has blossomed significantly during the past five years, but there are still two issues which continue to blight the sport while fuelling unnecessary controversies.
The non-existence of documented rules and the lack of ranking for the exponents of the game create unneeded distractions while players like Julian “Michael Jackson” White, Antonio “Lil Man” Daniel, Anthony “Ears” Mitchell, Curtis Jones and Mark “Venom” Griffith capture tournaments and take home increased pay cheques.
With the fan base increasing as the game moves from Bush Hall to Belfield, Dover, Springer Memorial, The Villages at Coverley and now the Ranch, the fans and the players remain in the dark about standard rules of the game.
Long serving administrator and organiser of many successful tournaments, Philip “Foff” Garner would often counter that the Barbados Road Tennis Association (BRTA) had rules and that they were working on producing the final product.
Ironically, Garner and chief executive officer of the Professional Road Tennis Association (PRTA), Dale Clarke, always meet with the players before every tournament to acquaint them with the playing regulations. But, regulations, unlike rules, can vary from tournament to tournament, thus, creating the rumblings among the players.
Similarly, fans watching one game under the PRTA and another under the BRTA tend to become confused with the application of different rulings. That confusion was heightened in the early stages of the Monarchs Of The Courts, where the organisers were forced to adjust the application of some of their regulations midstream.
The ranking of players has reached a critical stage since more and bigger paying competitions are coming on stream and the players have started to consider the set up of the pools to be significant. Only ranking will make the pool assignments more transparent.
The time is now for the organizers to start ranking the players according to their performance. A purple patch by Griffith saw his fans clamouring that a victory over White and four titles made Griffith the number one player in the land.
Apparently, 38 titles by White at that time was deemed irrelevant or passé.
Ranking would see a player picking up points for winning matches, increasing the points gained for making the final 16, advancing to the semi-finals, and finals, with the biggest boost coming from winning a tournament.
The absence of unity between the BRTA and the PRTA meant that Daniel was not ranked for the Monarchs’ intended team tournament and then in the singles competition, the unranked Daniel ended in Griffith’s pool to drown the ranked player once again.
However, until the BRTA and the PRTA decide to work together, ranking will remain an issue. Significantly, the BRTA will remain the official umbrella for road tennis in Barbados and be entitled to any direct assistance from the National Sports Council and Government.
Thus, the PRTA should have to seek and obtain permission to stage competitions in the island from the BRTA as is done by any organisations which have to approach the official bodies to stage basketball, cricket, football tournaments and so on.