TJ encouraged by women's numbers for JN Open
Shayne Fairman, Gleaner Writer
Tennis Jamaica (TJ) will be hoping to use this weekend's Jamaica Natio-nal (JN) Open Tennis Champion-ship as a springboard to get more females actively engaged in playing the sport competitively.
Speaking at Tuesday's press conference, Tennis Jamaica's president, John Bailey, lauded the sponsors for this year's increased prize monies and getting more females to compete.
"We are pleased to see an increase in number of women participants," Bailey said. "I believe there is a Serena Williams and Roger Federer of tennis right here in Jamaica."
Bailey stressed that the organisation wants more females to take tennis seriously because there are significant benefits to be gained.
"We (Tennis Jamaica) are trying to unbound females. Once the women play good competitive tennis, they will get scholarships to top American universities," he outlined.
This year's prize money for the victorious male is $200,000, while the victorious woman will cop $60,000.
A total of 121 players are down to compete at the event, which will take place at Liguanea Club and serves off on Saturday at 9 a.m., running through to 5 p.m. It will continue on Sunday, with the same time schedule. However, on weekdays, competition will begin at 6 p.m.
Tournament director, Llockett McGregor is expecting a competitive and entertaining event.
"I am expecting a very good and exciting tournament," he said. "With this tournament, we are looking forward to the continued development of tennis."
Defending men's champion, Damion Johnson, believes he is on target to retain his title.
"I feel good about this year. I am going to compete (while remaining) relaxed and confident," he outlined. " It will be a challenging tournament, but I am going to win."
Meanwhile, fast emerging junior, Shellita Haughton, who finished in the runner-up spot last year, is looking to clinch the top spot.
"I feel good and I have been training hard and hoping to win," she stated.
The tournament sponsors are: Hi-Lyte, Jamaica National, Toyota Jamaica and Liguanea Club.