St James tourney to hit the road
The top road tennis players on the island will once again have a chance at pocketing $20 000 worth in prize money with the addition of the St James Open Road Tennis Championship to the sporting calendar.
The tournament, which is slated for May 18 to June 2, is being hosted in partnership with the University of the West Indies, Sagicor and Bryden’s.
At a press conference yesterday at the Usain Bolt Sports Complex, tournament director Ryan Holford said the tournament will have an international focus in the future.
“It is a tournament which we see as becoming one of the premier road tennis events not only in Barbados, but we see this as becoming one of the premier road tennis events in the world. . .
$5 000 first prize
“Just as they will have the French Open or the US Open or Wimbledon, etc., as their Grand Slams and then you would have the others, we see the tournament in that light,” he said.
In the men’s category the winner will receive $5 000, while the women’s champion will receive $4 000. The runner-up in both divisions is expected to win $2 500, while third and fourth place participants in each category will pocket $1 500 and $1 000.
The tourney was conceptualised by president of the Haynesville Movement, Euel Payne, after the residents of the St James community called for a major tournament in their neighbourhood.
It is an open tournament and is expected to attract elite players such as Mark “Venom” Grifith, Julian “Michael Jackson” White and Antoine Daniel.
“It is not an A Class, B Class or C Class tournament, anyone can enter. We have already gotten a good response in terms of players looking to take part, which includes the island’s top road tennis players coming down to the Usain Bolt Sports Complex as well as Haynesville hard court to take part,” said Holford.
Players will get an opportunity to get a shot at the top players instead of the top players playing among themselves all the time, he said.
“In terms of Barbados, there isn’t a whole lot of separation between the guy who is ranked 20 and [the one ranked] 40th. You may find that the 40th-ranked player may be able to beat the 20th. Some unranked players may be able to upset some in the top 10, just as we see in lawn tennis.”
However, he explained that seeded players would be protected and would not meet each other until the quarter-final stage. The rankings will be based on performances across the 2017 and 2018 season.
“It will not be a perfect system but it will be a system based on the Professional Road Tennis Association tournaments as well as the others played during the year,” Holford said.
“We will look at the players who have been consistently reaching the semi-finals and the quarter-finals stage over the period. There is a distinction already as it relates to who will be the top eight players.”
The format will be elimination-based, while the semi-finals will be best-of-three sets and the finals best-of-five sets.
Holford said the plan for next year would be to raise the prize money and add a youth tournament and a doubles competition.
Director of sport at the University of the West Indies, Amanda Reifer, said it was the first time the UWI Faculty of Sport had partnered for a community outreach, made the more significant as it involved Barbados’ indigenous sport.
UWI will also be helping with the tournament’s organisation and, in the longer term, creating workshops and programmes to assist with the advancement of the sport on the island. (RG)