In less than a month, the Bahamas Lawn Tennis Association (BLTA) will look to stage the Giorgio Baldacci National Tennis Tournament. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has affected sports around the world, the BLTA is waiting on a go-ahead from the Ministry of Health to stage the event.
The tournament is set for December 14-19 at the BLTA’s National Tennis Complex inside the Queen Elizabeth’s Sports Centre.
According to BLTA President Perry Newton, they have to rely on information from the Ministry of Health going forward, as far as hosting tournaments in the immediate future is concerned. He is hoping to get an answer from the Ministry of Health by the end of the week or early next week. Newton said that over the past two weeks, the dialogue has been progressive.
“At this point, it will be good for us to be able to have this tournament. This will be the first one we would have had since the first lockdown. We know we have a lot of athletes who are overseas. We are trying to get them sufficient time to be able to make arrangements. The longer it takes for us to get official word on whether we are going to have the tournament, will determine who will participate. It will be a good thing for us to host it,” Newton said.
He added that there are a lot of athletes who are at home who have been enquiring about the tournament. Also, persons from the Family Islands will be looking to participate in the tournament and will need sufficient time to make arrangements.
The federation has been seeking permission to host tournaments since July but had experienced setbacks because of a spike in COVID-19 cases.
As of right now, a cancellation of the staple event on the BLTA calendar is not on the drawing board, according to Newton. However, depending on stipulations from the ministry, they might have to push it back a few days.
Like all federations, for several months, the BLTA has put in place strict COVID-19 protocols and guidelines for the restart of sport. They have followed the guidelines from the International Tennis Federation (ITF), and have adhered to best practices.
Last year’s tournament featured a highly competitive senior men’s championship game between Kevin Major Jr. and Baker Newman. Major was victorious and was crowned the champion. On the senior women’s side, Kerry Cartwright and Sydney Clarke battled in the championship match. Cartwright emerged as the champion.
The winners and runner-ups in the championships qualify for the Davis Cup and the Billie Jean King Cup, formerly the Fed Cup, tournaments. With this year’s edition of those international events being postponed, the federation is contemplating using the same teams for next year’s tournaments once the ITF finalizes the dates.
In the meantime, the federation is hosting another officiating course after successfully hosting one earlier this month. The federation is also looking at hosting a CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) course for coaches, officials and other persons from the tennis community once space allows.