There is some good news for Bahamian professional tennis players who play on the International Tennis Federation’s (ITF) World Tennis Tour, as they could be in action as early as August 3.
The announcement was made by the ITF in a press release on Wednesday. ITF-sanctioned tournaments have been suspended from March because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Action for the female professional players will resume on August 3, and the men will resume play on August 17. Both genders will engage in qualifying, singles and doubles action.
The Bahamian male players include Justin Roberts, Kevin Major Jr., Justin Lunn, Philip Major Jr. and Baker and Spencer Newman. The Bahamian female professionals include Kerrie Cartwright and Danielle Thompson.
The rankings points are important to players as they help with players’ seeding at tournaments. The rankings system has been stagnant since March 16. The ITF will continue to have discussions with the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Tours for the most appropriate and fair method to reintroduce the points system.
The calendar for the resumption of play has not been made official as yet, but the ITF is finalizing the calendar for August 3 to September 27. The schedule is expected to be on their website in short order.
ITF President David Haggerty said that restoring earning opportunities and health and safety has been their priority focus during the pandemic.
“This time of the COVID-19 pandemic has been a difficult time for our sport, and while acknowledging that there will still be challenges ahead, we are pleased that international tour competition will be able to resume in August. Restoring earning opportunities for athletes at the earliest possible opportunity – in a manner which protects the health and safety of all involved – has been a priority throughout this period,” Haggerty said. “The sport has come together to support players financially during the pandemic and we will continue to work with our partners from across the tennis world – the tours, the grand slams and our 210-member national associations – as we aim to safely resume international competition.”
The release also said that the ITF wants to ensure the health and safety of the athletes involved, which could mean no spectators at events.
“While the ITF is keen to see as many tournaments scheduled as possible in order to maximize playing opportunities for athletes around the world, we want to ensure the health and safety of the athletes. The decision for an event to be held will remain at the discretion of individual tournaments to determine if it is feasible for their event to go ahead, and with the appropriate health, safety and integrity infrastructure in place. Tournaments will be played without spectators, unless local or national government regulations explicitly permit fans to attend sporting events,” the release stated.
The ITF is mindful that players want to resume play, and further updates will be provided at a later date, according to the release.
It is expected that 80 percent of the ITF World Tennis Tour tournaments scheduled for the months of August and September will take place this year. As countries ease restrictions, the ITF expects nations will apply to host tournaments.
A couple of the biggest grand slams, the U.S. Open and the Roland Garros French Open, will be taking place later this year. The U.S. Open is scheduled for August 31 to September 13 in New York, New York, USA. The French Open will be held September 21 to October 11 in Paris, France.
There has been no official word on the Davis and Fed Cup tournaments this year, which the Bahamas Lawn Tennis Association (BLTA) has already selected national teams for.
The Fed Cup team consists of Sydney Clarke, Cartwright, Larikah Russell and Simone Pratt. Set to represent the country in Davis Cup play are Kevin Major Jr., Baker Newman, Roberts and Marvin Rolle.