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No end in sight for Dustin Brown fiasco

Published:Monday | February 8, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Kwesi Mugisa, Staff Reporter

Dustin Brown

There seems to be no end in sight for the bitter dispute between Jamaica's top-ranked player Dustin Brown and the local governing body of the sport, Tennis Jamaica.

Additionally, despite a phenomenal surge in the ATP rankings this year, a feat that has seen the player climb to 144th in the world, there is very little hope of him representing the country in this year's Davis Cup competition, or perhaps ever again.

It all comes down to financing, or better yet a lack thereof, as Brown has accused consecutive administrations of neglect, as it relates to providing a backbone for players seeking to break through on the world stage.

"Tennis Jamaica only knows me when the Davis Cup comes around, all the other times during the years they don't care how I manage to train and play tournaments. I could have attained a higher ATP ranking much earlier with proper support," Brown told the Gleaner.

Brown's current ranking is a phenomenal achievement as it is no secret that the country has struggled to produce top-class players in the sport of tennis, the last being Richard Russell, who made it to the second round of the Australian Open in 1964.

Mighty struggle

However, the fact that the 25-year-old has had a mighty struggle to do so, without the help of the association, despite repetitive pleas for assistance, sees him in no hurry to don the national colours again anytime soon, without major changes taking place.

Brown last represented the country in 2003 when, along with Ryan Russell who was at the time another promising junior, the team secured first place and promotion from Group 3 to Group 2 with a win over Puerto Rico. However, controversy sparked the following year when Brown, after another year of battling to fend for himself on the tour, declined the invitation to appear for the country as they pushed for a spot in Group I.

Making sacrifices

According to the player, the only way he was able to maintain and eventually improve his ranking was due to the fact that his parents purchased a camper, which enabled the player to travel to various tournaments around Europe.

"To be able to continue my career, my parents bought me a camper in April 2004 in order to travel through Europe and play as many games as possible."

"I would eat and sleep in my camper and I was travelling all over Europe, up and down for seven years to make it in professional tennis, holding the Jamaican flag high week by week, while my parents struggled to pay for the camper.

"I made a name for myself in Europe with my camper, my only chance to make it in tennis. Finally in 2009, I reached 144th in the ATP world ranking as a Jamaican player. I made it."

However, from the point of view of general secretary of Tennis Jamaica, Christine Gore, the current situation which sees Brown receiving no support from the association is of his own choosing.

According to Gore, one of the first things the then new administration did after taking office was to reach out to the player in an attempt to bury the hatchet. Brown, however, demanded the sacking of long-standing technical director Douglas Burke, a condition the body was unwilling to consider.

"We told him that we would not be dictated to, administrations cannot allow players to dictate terms and we were not willing to compromise on that," Gore said. "Unfortunately, that was one of the conditionalities of him returning to play for the team, he wanted us to fire Burke."

"We would love to support Dustin and have him as a part of the team. I mean, think about it, everyone wants to back a winner, we would have no reason to be isolating him and, in fact, we wish him all the best," Gore said while pointing to the fact that several players have been and continue to receive support.