By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
ALTHOUGH they have not postponed or cancelled the events due to the increase in the coronavirus pandemic, the Bahamas Lawn Tennis Association has completed its national teams for the upcoming Davis and Fed Cups.
The BLTA hosted its Invitational Tennis trials at the National Tennis Centre over the weekend just before the Bahamas Government announced a ban on all large gatherings of local sporting events until further notice after a Bahamian tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
The BLTA was able to stage the trials from Friday to Sunday with veteran player/captains Marvin Rolle and Larikah Russell emerging on top of the standings in the men and women’s pools respectively.
Rolle, 37, ended up playing rising young star Jacobi Bain in the men’s final game on Sunday. Bain, vying for his first spot on the team, took an early 2-0 lead in the first set. But Rolle remained poised and took the lead 4-2.
Bain eventually fought back for a 5-5 before Rolle used his wealth of skills and experience to win 7-5. He went on to win 6-1 in straight sets.
Rolle, who also won over Rodney Carey Jr in his first match on Friday, emerged as the overall male winner of the invitational trials and earned his 17th qualification on the Davis Cup team.
Rolle will join the team of Justin Roberts - who earned his first berth as the highest ranked Bahamian on the International Tennis Federation.
And Kevin Major Jr and Baker Newman, who finished as the champion and runner-up respectively at the BLTA’s Giorgio Baldacci Tennis Tournament held in December. The Bahamas will be playing in the American Zone III Davis Cup competition, but no date or venue has been confirmed as yet. Meanwhile, the Bahamas is scheduled to play the American Group in the Fed Cup in Panama at the end of April.
But the BLTA said they are still waiting on word on whether or not the event will be staged at that time as a result of the global pandemic.
In their segment of the trials, Russell won over collegian Elana Mackey, who fought hard but like Rolle, Russell’s experience prevailed as she came through in straight sets 6-2, 6-1.
Their trials, however, was quite an interesting one as the three players participating - Grand Bahamian Simone Pratt, Elana Mackey and Larikah Russell - each won a match. They went to a tiebreak to determine how many sets were won in the tournament. Based on this, Russell and Pratt emerged as the two top finishers.
By virtue of securing her spot on the team, this will be Russell’s 10th appearance and the sixth for Pratt.
They will join the team of Kerrie Cartwright and Sydney Clarke, who clinched their berths at the Giorgio Baldacci Tournament as Cartwright won over Clarke in the final.
“We thank both ladies for their service to country,” the BLTA said in a press release.
The BLTA was able to complete the trials before the Bahamas Government and the Bahamas Olympic Committee called for a suspension of all local sporting events of large gatherings until further notice due to the coronavirus.
The BLTA thanked Mickey Williams, Mike Butler and Michelle Pelacanos for the smooth running of the tournament.
“We look forward to some great participation from Team Bahamas on the world stage in the 2020 Fed Cup and Davis Cup,” the BLTA said.