As the world continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) has decided to suspend all events until July 13, 2020. Locally, that means that The Bahamas senior women’s national tennis team’s trip to play in the Americas Zone Group II Fed Cup Tournament in June has been postponed to a later date.
The tournament was set to be held at the Centro de Alto Rendimiento Fred Maduro in Panama City, Panama, the week of June 8 to 13. The Bahamas Lawn Tennis Association (BLTA) released the news last Thursday.
That announcement came after the ITF posted its decision on their website on Wednesday, stating that they suspended the ITF World Tennis Tour and all ITF circuit events.
ITF President David Haggerty said, “Protecting the health and well-being of all those involved in tennis as well as the wider public has been and remains our priority. We recognize the significant impact these decisions will have across the sport and do not take them lightly. However, we must continue to be guided by experts and evidence.”
Team Bahamas is comprised of national champion Kerrie Cartwright and runner-up Sydney Clarke, and they are joined by Simone Pratt and Larikah Russell. Both Pratt and Russell qualified for the team at the BLTA Invitational Tennis Trials last month.
Team Bahamas will play in the Americas Zone Group II in Event A against countries such as Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, host nation Panama and Uruguay. The seven teams are going to play a round-robin format in two pools. One pool will have four teams and the other three teams will be in another pool. The winners of each pool will advance to a playoff to determine which nation will advance to the Americas Zone Group I for 2021.
In Event B, Barbados, Bolivia, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Puerto Rico and Trinidad & Tobago will play in two pools in La Paz, Bolivia. Like the Event A that The Bahamas is in, the winners of each pool will advance to a playoff to determine which nation will advance to the Americas Zone Group I for 2021.
At the end of competition, the winners from Event A and Event B will move up into the Americas Zone Group I.
Cartwright is ranked as The Bahamas’ number one player, Clarke is at number two and Pratt is at number three for The Bahamas. Russell has agreed to serve as player/captain for the team.
The team has a lot of experience, with both Cartwright and Russell playing in multiple Fed Cup tournaments – 10 in particular for Russell. This will be the sixth time for Pratt and the second time for Clarke.
Russell has the most wins with 31 overall and the most doubles wins with 17 for The Bahamas. Cartwright has the most singles wins with 19.
Currently, The Bahamas is ranked at number 57 in the world.
Cartwright and Clarke played for The Bahamas last year when the nation made it to the final but lost to the host nation, Peru. They won Pool B by sporting a 2-0 win-loss record.
The Bahamas first played in the Fed Cup in 1990 and has reached the Americas Zone Group I a few times.
On the men’s side, there is no set date or venue for their Americas Zone Group III Davis Cup Tournament. However, the Bahamian team has been ratified. Making up the team are Justin Roberts, national champion Kevin Major Jr., Baker Newman and veteran Marvin Rolle.
The ITF statement said that they will continue to review the COVID-19 situation with other stakeholders and aim to resume ITF events as soon as it is safe to do so.
The BLTA and ITF will provide further updates as they develop.