Sat | Jun 6, 2020

Tennis Jamaica mourns Clarke passing

Published:Monday | May 18, 2020 | 12:00 AMLennox Aldred/Gleaner Writer
In this file photo from November 2018, former Gleaner Company Media Limited chairman and managing director Oliver Clarke (back left) is pictured with the rest of his Racquet-eers Tennis Club teammates. Clarke, who passed away at his home in St Andrew on Saturday, was an avid tennis fan.
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Many would have known Gleaner Company Media Limited former chairman and managing director Oliver Clarke as the consummate business professional, however, the media titan was also a lover of tennis and an avid supporter of the sport.

Tennis Jamaica president John Azar paid tribute to the media mogul, whom he described as an icon who loved the sport dearly.

“First of all, I would like to offer my extreme condolences on behalf of Tennis Jamaica as an organisation,” Azar said. “It is no secret that we have lost an icon. I certainly, as a little boy, had fond memories of Mr Clarke on the tennis court as we had good banter there, and he certainly was an avid tennis fan and player, and he will be greatly missed.”

Azar rekindles memories of Clarke, whom he described as always being kind, courteous, and was always welcoming and friendly.

“Growing up as a young boy and seeing him around the court and how kind he was to me and everyone around the court, he was certainly a valuable member of the tennis fraternity, and I certainly will treasure those memories.”

Former national tennis player Richard Russell shared the same sentiments about Azar as he, too, used to watch Clarke as a teenager on the tennis courts in Kingston.

“Every Sunday, Mr Clarke would be at the tennis court at the Liguanea Club, along with Andrew Bloomfield, Arthur Bonito, and Oliver Marshall,” Russell said.

Such was his love for the sport, Clarke would put on an annual friendly tennis tournament in western Jamaica.

Clarke was a member of the Racquet-eers Tennis Club, a team that played in the tournament. That team consisted of Tony Gambrill (non-playing captain and coach), Rachel McLarty, Rosie McIver, Gill Drake, Norman Marshall, Howard Drake, Everton Morgan, Aubyn Hill, Richard Gomes, Stephen Todd, Rolly Grant, and Richard Jones.