By TENAJH SWEETING
Tribune Sports Reporter
The Bahamas Lawn Tennis Association (BLTA) will continue their 2023 junior tennis national championships for the older division starting today. Juniors of the under 12 through 18 divisions will battle at the National Tennis Centre (NTC) starting at 2pm today.
The event will continue from Friday, June 16 until Wednesday, June 21 and will feature singles and doubles competition in all divisions. The Automotive Industrial Distributors Ltd (AID) sponsored event will include 150 matches between 100 tennis players from New Providence, Grand Bahama, Exuma, and Eleuthera.
Perry Newton, president of BLTA, talked about the level of competition expected to be on display this weekend.
“We expect a very competitive tournament. We look especially to the 14 and 16 girls and boys – the competition is going to be very fierce. Everybody is vying to be at the top and earn high ranking points, ” Newton said.
He added that the weather will definitely play a role in the competition especially if it is hot because it will test the overall conditioning and stamina of the athletes which can potentially lead to some upsets.
The 2023 junior tennis nationals will not only allow athletes to compete for the championship but they will also have the opportunity to earn the highest ranking points for the BLTA calendar year.
Unlike the younger division which featured shorter sets, the older players will battle in the best of three tiebreaker sets. Last week at the NTC there were 13 new players that competed in the under 8 and under 10 divisions and there are more newcomers expected to play this weekend as well. With the sport growing more with every competition, Newton said it is a collective effort that goes into it.
“It is not one person that can take the credit,” the president said. “There is a lot of thanks that has to be given to parents for staying committed to the success of their kids and we have to look at the athletes who want to play tennis…it’s a lot of persons that go into this and without one portion it’s hard to have success so we are working to continually grow each area.”
The 2022 defending champions Patrick MacTaggart, Dentry Mortimer Jr, Kaylah Fox, Sarai Clarke, and others will also be in action to defend their championship hardware.
With over 150 matches scheduled and 20 set to take place today starting at 2pm, the efforts of the newly-trained umpires have been greatly appreciated. Following a two-day umpire training course in May, the newest umpires were finally able to showcase their officiating abilities at last weekend’s junior nationals for the under 8 and 10 divisions.
After two days of competition at the NTC last weekend, Eden Storr was crowned champion for the under 8 girls.
Her runner up was Christin McWilliam. For the under 10 girls, Londyn Mortimer came away as the champion and Rebecca Bitan was the runner up. Meanwhile, Cory Conyers won the under 10 boys division and Max Shick was the runner up.
The event is sponsored by AID, Coca Cola, and RMS Insurance Agents. The next event on the BLTA calendar will be the International Tennis Federation (ITF) tournament from June 24 to July 1.