After an almost two-year break, due to the threat of COVID-19, the popular Winterbotham IC (International Tennis Club) Junior Development Tennis Series is back, and got underway over the weekend at the Bahamas Lawn Tennis Association’s (BLTA) National Tennis Centre.
The series, designed to get young under-10 and under-12 players engaged in competitive tennis, in a friendly and enjoyable way, has been a great success. Over 30 juniors competed in this initial competition over the weekend. Groups were separated by age and gender; and there was round robin play on Saturday.
On Sunday, most players competed against others of a similar level and all players played several matches.
The IC with a motto of “hands across the net, friendship across the ocean” encourages good sportsmanship among those competing. They ask parents and coaches present not to get involved in the matches but to be appreciative and supportive of all players. This way, it creates an enjoyable experience for those who may be competing in a competitive environment for the first time and it is found that many friendships are created, said an organizer.
The players are given a light lunch, which also encourages them to stay around after their matches and create friendships.
An important part of the event is “Sportsmanship Awards” given to a player who demonstrates good attitude on and off the court. The boys winner of this award was Ayai Bethel, who was competing in this competition for the first time. Congratulations are also extended to Jasleen Salkey – the winner of the girls award. The IC looks forward to observing them both as they develop in future competitions.
The winner of the girls 12s was Brianna Houlgrave, and Alec Hooper was the winner of the boys 12s. Unlike most of the competitors, who were competing for the first time, both Houlgrave and Hooper were involved in the younger age group pre-COVID.
“It was good to see how they have progressed from the earlier series,” said an organizer. In the 10s age group, all the competitors were new to the Winterbotham IC Junior Series, and the winners were Cory Conyers for the boys and Victoria Sandi-Aguilar for the girls.
The main IC organizers were Tara and Neil Mactaggart, with Mickey Williams, together with tournament referee Everette Bannister. After the event, they commented on the excellent atmosphere from players, parents, coaches and supporters. It was clear that the young players had benefited and enjoyed the experience and will be back. The IC thanks the coaches from many areas of New Providence, Grand Bahama and Artie Johnson from Eleuthera, who have all developed these young players and brought them to this competition. It was especially noted what good attitudes and friendliness the young players exhibited, which represents something the coaches have implemented into their development programs and are to be commended for.
President of The Bahamas IC Kit Spencer said the International Tennis Clubs are in 40 countries, with players who have played to a high standard such as Davis Cup and want to keep the international camaraderie and competition going as they get older. In addition to older age events for its members, the worldwide IC organization has a philanthropic arm that works to develop kids in the sport of tennis in many poor areas of the world. In addition, it runs a number of junior competitions such as the IC Rod Laver Junior Challenge, which is a team competition for two boys and two girls 16-and-under who play as one team. This is held on every continent with the winning teams going to the Worldwide Finals the following year. The Bahamas will host the North American event later this year.
The last three Worldwide Finals have been held at Wimbledon, London; Monte Carlo, Monaco; and Tokyo, Japan – an outstanding experience for the juniors at world-class venues. IC member and ‘tennis great’ Laver has lent his name to this competition. The IC sponsors the juniors in these event at no expense to them. In this respect, Winterbotham Trust is thanked for its continued support of IC Bahamas activities that help make such things possible. For more information on the IC, interested persons are asked to visit the website www.ictennis.net.