Sport

Tennis Jamaica seeks permanent home

BY DANIA BOGLE Observer staff reporter

Tuesday, January 01, 2013    

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FINDING a permanent home for Tennis Jamaica in the coming year, or acquiring a long-term lease on its current location, is high on the agenda for president John Bailey.

Bailey told the Jamaica Observer that that is one of the key areas that have been identified for the sport.

The Eric Bell Tennis Centre has housed the association for many years, but the facility is owned by the Overseas Examination Council and negotiations will begin soon on renewing a lease for the complex.

"We would love to get 49 years. It is hard to improve and spend capital, so we trying to get a long-term arrangement. The longer the better," he said.

The Eric Bell Centre also happens to be one of the few public courts in the island — something Bailey wants to change. Ideally, there would be public tennis courts across the island, especially in the main towns and cities of Montego Bay, Ocho Rios and Mandeville.

Shortage of equipment also adversely affects the development of the sport.

"Equipment is donated from primarily overseas," he explained.

Bailey, who was elected in June after acting in the post since March following the resignation of Aubyn Hill, said several areas had been identified, with a director assigned to each.

"Each director is passionate," Bailey said. "As part of the technical development, we are targeting a schools programme to get tennis back into 20 schools each year."

Christine Gore has been charged with taking that programme forward, while Marcus James will focus on coaching.

"(We) are trying to establish a coaches register, local and overseas, and trying to get most coaches certified by ITF (International Tennis Federation) or similar," he explained.

The association will be trying to get some coaching courses going while officiating and trying to further increase the pool of national officials and white badge referees is important.

"When we have tournaments we can have white badge referees," said Bailey, adding that Simon Casserly will head that drive.

For the year past, Bailey was able to pick out some successes, notably, the ITF Junior Tennis Tournament in July which brought together all the top juniors from across the region.

"Our Davis Cup team did fairly well," Bailey added.

Looking forward to 2013, the improving of the fortunes of the Women's Fed Cup is a goal.

"The women had gotten a little weak in the past," Bailey said. Tennis Jamaica will need to focus on its younger players as well to get the right foundation.

"So those are the main technical development areas. We are trying to develop and promote the sport of tennis and 10-and-under is where we need to start," Bailey said.

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