Bahamian tennis trio ready to play in events

After not playing competitively since March, Bahamian tennis players Justin Roberts, Kerrie Cartwright and Kevin Major Jr. are ready to swing their rackets after the International Tennis Federation (ITF) announced on Wednesday that the World Tennis Tours can resume as early as August 3.

The trio were looking forward to an eventful year that included competing for the senior tennis team at the Davis Cup and Fed Cup events.

The ITF was looking to resume tennis on July 13 with uncertainties, and has now decided to resume events for the women on August 3 and for men on August 17.

Major Jr. was set to join a tennis club in Germany where he was scheduled to play in a high-quality series of tennis matches. Roberts was looking forward to his first year on the professional circuit, and Cartwright was looking to get back in the swing of things and rise in the rankings.

Although he is excited to have the opportunity to competitively hit the courts, Roberts knows that the number of events in the foreseeable future is limited.

“I saw the tour events are opened up back in August but there are not that [many] events to play in at this time, looking at the schedule. It is about three per week around the world. We are not sure how it is going to look – if we are going to be able to get into tournaments. We do not know if they are going to be in the USA (United States of America), Europe or wherever. At this point, we still don’t have a good idea about when or where we are going to play next,” Roberts said.

Major is excited to get back into competition, having not played any competitive tennis this year.

“I am looking forward to it all. I cannot wait to get back out there. There was no competition this year and it was boring. I am finally able to get back out and test my skills and get back in the lab to see what I need to work on again. Every day is a day to get better – that is how it has been,” Major said.

Cartwright said it’s great for the tour to be starting up again. She knows that the players want to get back out there and play. However, she has mixed feelings.

“It’s going to be very interesting how they regulate hundreds of athletes coming to one location and keeping it safe for everyone. I do have mixed feelings about it because in tennis people are coming from all over the world to one city/place each week. After that week you pack up and travel again to another country for the next tournament,” Cartwright said.

For her, she was trying to get into tournaments in the USA before the pandemic reached this side of the world. She hopes that she can get into tournaments when the tour resumes on August 3. Cartwright said it is going to be tough for lower ranked players to get into tournaments. Instead, for players like her, they will likely have to go to Central/South America or Europe.

No tour schedule has been posted as yet. However, two of the major grand slams, the U.S. Open and Roland Garros French Open, are still scheduled for this year.

Roberts was fortunate enough to be in Keller, Texas, when the strict quarantine measure were put in place. He was able to still get some practice in at the Dent Tennis Academy in Keller where he is coached by retired tennis player Dennis Dent.

“Physically, I am prepared to play. I have been training everyday throughout this whole quarantine. I haven’t competed and obviously not many people have but I am physically and mentally prepared. I am looking forward to it. I have been training at a high level. I feel like I have improved during this pandemic,” Roberts said.

Since professional athletes were allowed to resume training in early May in The Bahamas, Major got back to training and is ready to get into action. He said that once he figures out which events he is going to, he will start to play practice matches to begin peaking close to those events.

Cartwright, who is in the USA, was one of the few players to get in some training and has also been training athletes to raise money to be able to travel and play.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to have access to continue training in some way,” she said. “I have been playing, doing fitness and also training athletes. I’ve been trying to stay as safe as possible and control what I am able to.”

Major is the Bahamas Lawn Tennis Association’s (BLTA) National Senior Championships men’s winner. He took down Baker Newman in a hard fought battle in the final with a score of 7-5 and 6-3. With that victory, Major booked a spot on the senior men’s national tennis team that will play in the Davis Cup Tournament, if it ever materializes. Newman also made the team for finishing as the runner-up.

The senior men’s champion said he is always looking forward to the Davis Cup, adding that it has always been a fun experience.

The Bahamas’ highest ranked male player, Roberts, made the Davis Cup team automatically because he is ranked at number 416 in the world. The final player on the Davis Cup team is Marvin Rolle.

Cartwright is one of four members on the Fed Cup team for The Bahamas the year. She was the first to book a spot when she defeated Sydney Clarke in the final of the BLTA’s National Senior Championships for women. Clarke also made the team as the runner-up. Larikah Russell and Simone Pratt will join Clarke and Cartwright on The Bahamas’ Fed Cup team.

There is no schedule for the Davis Cup and the Fed Cup events this year.

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Simba French

Simba joined The Nassau Guardian in 2012 as a technical producer for Guardian Radio 96.9 FM. He joined the Editorial Department as a sports reporter in 2018. Simba has covered a wide range of sports stories, including the 2018 CARIFTA in Nassau, Bahamas. Education: College of the Bahamas, BA Media Journalism

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