By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
THE Bjorn Munroe 2018 International Tennis Tournament is scheduled to take place at the YMCA tennis facilities in Freeport today, with players from the United States competing with local players.
Mr Munroe - who was the youngest Bahamas junior national champion, and who had competed on the pro circuit - is happy to be back home hosting this tennis tournament in Grand Bahama.
The tournament officially opens at noon today and runs until Sunday, June 10. A cocktail reception was held yesterday evening at Pelican Bay Resort to introduce the draws and the players.
"I am excited to be here, and I am grateful to the YMCA for partnering with us, along with the Ministry of Sports, Ministry of Tourism, and many other sponsors, Munroe said.
Several players from West Palm Beach will be participating. There will be a free tennis clinic held this morning before the noon opening.
There will be matches for girls and boys ages 12, 14, 16, and 18 - and double matches for 14 and 18.
Mr Munroe believes such tournaments are important and noted that his goal "is to link the gap between international tennis and local tennis and help youngsters on the island to excel."
"I see a need to have tournaments to get them in college, and get them to where Mark Knowles and Roger Smith are, and even myself," he said.
Munroe grew up in Grand Bahama and started playing tennis and other sports at a young age.
"I excelled in tennis, and at 15 years old I became junior champion. I was one of the youngest to win the junior nationals," he recalled.
He said that tennis afforded him the opportunity not only to go to school but to travel the world.
Munroe received a scholarship to Ohio State, where he had an outstanding career there. He then went on to play for four and-a-half years on the pro-circuit, travelling all over the US and to 27 countries.
"I went to every continent, except Australia," he said. So tennis has done well for me, and it is a (wonderful) sport, you can play from two years old to 92 years old. It is one of those sports that really goes a far way."
Mr Munroe said that he wants to help Bahamians because many persons had helped him along too.
"We have the talent here, we just need to develop it. And this is something I would love to come back here and continue to assist," he said.
Shakeitha Henfield, programme director for the YMCA, said they are very excited to partner with Munroe in hosting the international tennis event at their tennis facility.
"We have children coming from Florida, and other places in the country and it is exciting to have the tournament here on home soil. As an athlete being able to get exposure is very important, and I encourage everyone to come out and support the kids and show that we can host such events in GB," he said.
Ms Henfield said it is good when Bahamians who have excelled in sports come back home and give back to the youth.