Monday, April 15, 2024

Tennis ace


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THE TENNIS WORLD is being served notice.
Somewhere in the globe, a small dot on the map is signalling its intention to become a regular destination for international tournaments.
Hopefully the ATP has taken note.
If they haven’t already, tennis’ governing body should get the message by the time Juan Martin del Potro, Gael Monfils and John Isner serve out the second edition of Barbados’ Tennis Pon De Rock exhibition series next month.
Because it doesn’t get any higher profiled than pitting last year’s US Open champ against a pair of top 20 players from possibly the most competitive era of men’s tennis.
Unless of course, you pair a future world No.1 with a [then] current top-ranked player, who is just a retirement away from becoming legend in the women’s sport.
Oh, wait a minute.
So about all that’s left for the organisers is to provide Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal with another venue to renew their rivalry, while having John McEnroe remark “you cannot be serious”
from an adjoining commentary booth.
It stands to reason the next progression could only be a full-fledged ATP event on these shores.
Apparently I’m already a couple steps behind the Barbados Invitational Tennis Exhibition.
“It depends really on the performances that we have here,” said BITE director Kodi Lewis when asked about the possibility of hosting such tournaments.
As Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy explained, before the ATP selects a venue one usually has to successfully organise a series of exhibitions
and then the governing body marks how well the destination executes.
If Serena Williams and Caroline Wozniacki’s responses are anything to go by then Barbados isn’t too far from impressing the ATP board as well.
“We’re looking at maybe the next two, three, four years, but it also depends on if there are slots that are open,” Lewis revealed.
“What we would like to do is actually have a smaller ATP event here, a challenger, which is not that hard to do. So we can have international competition here in the interim until we do have a bigger ATP event.
However, hosting such a smaller tournament is a challenge in itself, considering that just one of the 13 top tier events at that level are currently situated outside Europe.
And the closest this region has ever reached to hosting one of the other 150 regular series tournaments is Colombia.
But don’t tell this to Lewis and the other BITE directors because they believe they still have a leg up on the rest of the competition.
He further added that they have the actual facilities to host a challenger by way of the National Tennis Centre.
But what he forgot to mention, is that more importantly, they’re about to get some more chips in their pockets in the form of del Potro, Monfils and Isner.


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