The Eleuthera Tennis Association (ETA), with president, Coach ‘Artie’ Johnson – the tournament director – organized and hosted the 16th Annual Tim’s Refrigeration Tennis Tournament, this year which was held in Palmetto Point at Knowles Courts, on Saturday, April 22nd, and Sunday, April 23rd, 2023. The categories at this year’s tournament were Men and Ladies singles and also Mixed doubles.
Treasurer with the Bahamas Lawn Tennis Association (BLTA), and founding sponsor of the annual tournament in Eleuthera – held in his name, Mr. Tim Dames, has continued to sponsor the tournament for the past 16 years. His commitment to tennis in Eleuthera and throughout The Bahamas was highlighted and applauded by the membership of both the ETA and BLTA.
This year’s tournament was held in honour of the late Wesley “Wes” Rolle, past president of the BLTA [the governing body for tennis in The Bahamas], and the trophy for the MVP of the tournament in Wes’ honour was given to Jason Quashie.
On hand to assist ETA president Johnson in presenting the winners with their awards was BLTA president Perry Newton.
In the Women Singles division, the winner was Kerrie Pryor, and taking home the runner up award was Tracie Penfound. Jethro Armstrong earned the Men Singles champion title, with Matthew Pryor placing second. In the Mixed Doubles, Van Wilson and Tracie Penfound bested the team of Larry Rolle and Caitlin Walker to clinch first place. Also, young Ayai Bethel, described as one of Eleuthera’s top junior tennis players, defeated sponsor of the tournament, Mr Tim Dames in their match-up, shared a proud Coach Johnson.
BLTA president Newton also took the opportunity, during the weekend tourney, to present the new coaches from Eleuthera with their Play Tennis Course Certificate: Roy Rivera and Michelle Walker who participated in the Coaches Certification Course in Nassau.
In addition, Carol Young, was recognized for obtaining her USTA Coaching certificate. President Johnson, who has been coaching tennis in Eleuthera for several decades commented that it was very important to have additional tennis enthusiasts in Eleuthera completing the various levels of coaching certifications, to keep the sport thriving and growing on the island.
Tim Dames, who was present and also participated, commented on what the tournament meant to him personally, saying, “The time goes by so quickly, and when we started it, it was a fun thing, and it continued to be fun. One of the things I would want to see now, is the beginning of a developmental fund for tennis players, not just in Eleuthera, but all over The Bahamas. As a people we have to build this country. I love my country; it has been good to me, and it is good to give back. The more we can share, it makes us more solidified.”
President Newton, who said that this trip was his second return to the island since the pandemic, commented on some of the challenges and positive points for tennis going forward in Eleuthera and in The Bahamas, saying, “One of the biggest challenges we have is court availability, and they have been doing a good job of managing the tournament with the limited courts – it’s a lot to get in during the two days. But, that’s one of the biggest challenges on all of the islands – the availability of courts. So, hopefully that can be taken on – it’s unique to The Bahamas, because of us being made up of so many islands.
“Our islands’ topography also lends to the challenges of cost, because to play and compete with other tennis players locally on different islands, Bahamian players face the same challenges as if travelling away to play – as it is very expensive to travel within the country. So, we try to support as much as we can, because it is important for our players to get the competitive exposure.”
Newton continued, lauding the role that sponsor, Tim Dames, has played in nurturing Eleuthera tennis, saying, “This tournament has been sponsored by Tim’s Refrigeration since its inception, and whenever persons in society come forward and assist in this way, it creates an environment and an economy around the local sports. There were trophies and balls that had to purchased, t-shirts and you have vendors selling food. So, it helps to move the economy in a positive direction. It’s good when you have corporate persons supporting in this manner.”
Outlining a few of the areas that the BLTA focuses on as a governing body, Newton said, “We look to train coaches, to train players, train officials, and to just get an active community, because tennis helps to promote a healthy lifestyle. It’s a sport that you can play basically all of your life. We have a lot of over 70’s here, including Coach Johnson. I am hoping that when I get to their age and stage, I will still be as active as they are. It is important to start young, and when I say young, I mean any age. So, as you age, your body will be conditioned to the movements and to just have a healthy lifestyle. That is one of the biggest things.
He added, “Also, for the younger kids, it opens up doors, educational opportunities, opportunities to travel, as well as opportunities for a potential career path. It is a lot of work, and it does take a lot of dedication and commitment.”