Jamaicans will be among world's best in five years - TJ's Bailey
Shayne Fairman, Gleaner Sports
JOHN BAILEY, president of Tennis Jamaica (TJ), predicts that by 2019, Jamaicans will be featuring among the game's elites on the world stage.
"This is our equivalent to the US and French Open here in Jamaica. We hope that it will be the platform for moving tennis forward," said Bailey at yesterday's launch of the All Jamaica Tennis Championship.
The launch was held at Liguanea Club in New Kingston for the tournament that will serve off at 10 a.m. on August 16th (Saturday) and run until August 23.
"This marks a process that will put Jamaica on the map globally. Give us five years and we'll have top global players, like a Usain Bolt of tennis," he said of the premier local tennis tournament that will feature 41 males and 10 females, vying for $500,000 in cash and prizes.
Jamaica's best will compete in the men's and ladies singles, men's and ladies doubles, juniors, Over 35 and Over 45.
Dayne Patterson, retail business and development manager of Hi-Pro, said his organisation would like to make it a memorable one for players and spectators.
"We have committed a considerable amount of money to this tournament. Tennis Jamaica and our brand have a good relationship. Both are national brands so we want to encourage development of the sport and expose both locally," he outlined.
He added that the partnership is also geared towards the sport's long-term growth. Other sponsors include Jamaica Money Market Brokers Merchant Bank, Reggae Jammin' and Hi-Lyte.
Tournament director Llockett McGregor had high praises for the standard of the sport.
"Right now, our standing is very good. We are on par with a few Caribbean countries, based on a number of wins in junior events," said McGregor, in reference to overseas junior tournaments in the United States that have been won by Jamaicans. Such competitions include some of the world's best juniors.
McGregor added that this All Jamaica Tennis Championship gives players an added incentive to work hard as it is a premier event for national selection, plus the prize money is more.
Meanwhile, championship favourite Damion Johnson is full of confidence.
"Of course, I will win. Jamaica will see exciting things when I play," he remarked.
Junior player Andrew Bicknell noted he was looking forward to doing big things.
"I think I have a chance to do well and hopefully win. I will play well," he said.