Ryon Jones, Staff Reporter
There may be cash incentives coming the way of female participants in the Jamaica National (JN) Open Tennis Championships next year, as well as an increase for men.
This year's tournament, which was held at the Liguanea Club from December 4-9, saw the eventual male winner Damion Johnson pocket $100,000 after beating Dominic Pagon 6-4, 7-5 in the final. Pagon received $50,000.
Women's Open final winner, Ffion Flecther, only received a prize of a weekend for two following her 6-1, 6-2 triumph over Khalilah Johnson.
"What we are planning to do next year is increase the prize money, so that we can entice more overseas players to the tournament," event organiser, Lockett McGregor, said. "Prize money plays a big part in that, but I can't state how much, but we are thinking of increasing the prize money for next year for the men's section. We are also thinking of offering prize money for the ladies next year."
Absence of prize money
During the tournament, a number of the female participants stated their displeasure with the absence of prize money, but McGregor sought to explain the reason.
"Over the years, we have always tried to invite ladies and what happens when you put prize money to it and two or three ladies enter it doesn't speak well to your sponsors, so therefore we removed the prize money from it," McGregor shared. "For the first time in a long time we had this sort of interest where we had a total of about 15 ladies entering, of which 10 of them were top junior players or top female players; others were amateurs or diplomats.
"So we are hoping if we announce prize money that will build some more interest for some more ladies to come on board."
Another grey area for the tournament was the absence of officials for the opening stages, as umpires were not used until the semi-final stage. McGregor is, however, of the view that whether or not umpires were used there would have been contentious calls, as the standard of local umpiring needs to be improved.
"The tournament before this one we had umpires and we still had a big uproar from time to time with regard to calls," McGregor highlighted. "So that is something that the board has to look at in terms of training more professional umpires."
Prizes of weekends for two were also given to Men's Open Class 2 singles winner Leighton Burton and Men's Open Class 3 victor Junior Haldane. Burton defeated Joseph Dibbs 3-6, 6-2, 6-2, while Haldane stopped Andrez Coy 6-1, 6-2.