Professional tennis returns to Swept Away
The Couples Swept Away Open Clay Court Tennis Championship, which began in 1991, had developed the reputation as Jamaica's premier open tennis event.
The only clay court tournament, it was the longest continuous tennis tournament in Jamaica.
In a manner of speaking, it had been swept off court for a while. But after a five-year hiatus, it will return with a bang this weekend for its 21st anniversary at its very home, Couples Swept Away in Negril.
This milestone event will feature top players from Jamaica, the Caribbean, the United States, Canada and Europe, with the tournament set to tee off on Saturday and run through until Monday, National Heroes' Day.
According to tournament director Llockett McGregor, without the Swept Away tournament, there was a big void in the professional tennis league in Jamaica.
"The tournament has grown from a top-16 competition to one of the biggest tournaments of an international calibre in Jamaica. This year, players will be coming here from as far as China," McGregor said. "Swept Away provides the best facilities that tennis players and enthusiasts look forward to each year."
This event has successfully exposed young players to the international arena and has developed to internationally accepted standards. It will be advertised by the Professional Tennis Registry's website and magazine, which has over two million active members in Europe, the United States and Asia.
President of Tennis Jamaica John Bailey, said the championship is a great opportunity for senior players to compete at the professional level.
"A significant number of players from Jamaica, the region and overseas will help to build a momentum that will, hopefully, lead to a continued commitment to develop the sport," said Bailey.
"We need to have our minds ahead by at least three to five years, which can result in a win-win situation for everybody," Bailey added.
Sponsors for the tournament include title sponsor British Caribbean Insurance Company (BCIC), Couples Swept Away, Negril, Lee's Fifth Avenue, Caribbean Resources, Hi-Lyte Sports Drink, Guardsman Limited, Marksman Limited, and Toyota Jamaica. This event is sanctioned by Tennis Jamaica.
Simone Foote, marketing manager, BCIC, said the insurance company has been serving Jamaica for over 50 years, and they are pleased to be partnering with the tournament and its re-introduction as one of Jamaica's premier tennis championships.
"We are helping to sustain something positive," said Foote. "We have always been looking for ways to contribute to the tennis community, and based on the quality of the championships, it can be used as a vehicle to expand Jamaica's reputation regionally and internationally."