PRESIDENT of the Tennis Association of TT (TATT), Hayden Mitchell, is hopeful that TT will be able to host a few international events this year, providing they get clearance from the Ministry of Health.
TT were due to stage several International Tennis Federation (ITF) events in 2020, but those tournaments were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
According to Mitchell, “We’re already engaged in conversations with ITF and the regional body (COTECC – Central American and Caribbean Tennis Confederation) to see when we could start to plan.
“We saw with the CPL (that) we can have events. We’re going to take that learning and apply it to have events.”
Mitchell added, “We’re going to have back-to-back events in Trinidad. Once we get all clearance, and we can have international players come in, there is quarantine, but instead of coming for one event, they’ll have back-to-back events. It makes sense for them to stay here longer.”
The TATT president is eyeing the months of June and July to have the proposed back-to-back competitions. There will be live streaming available for the fans if the events are staged behind closed doors.
Mitchell, commented on the 2020 season, which was affected by the covid19 lockdown.
“We were able to actually have our junior teams participate earlier in the year,” he said. “They were actually able to play a bit of tennis before the lockdown.
“2020 was going to be the biggest year in TT history, in terms of hosting international events. We were carded to have at least 12 international events in Trinidad, which has never happened before. It’s on the heels of tennis getting an award (in 2018) from the ITF for tennis development in the region.”
Mitchell continued, “(Last) year, during the covid(19), we were able to get certified, from ITF, in terms of coaching. When we realised we weren’t going to have tennis as we were supposed to, we quickly shifted and we focused on the development of the coaches.”
A lot of local coaches were certified by the ITF, via online courses, during the lockdown period.
However, local events were able to resume in September.
Mitchell pointed out, “Tennis is one of the few sports that were able to physically distance, so we were able to (come) up with our guidelines so we got our players back out playing. Our executive was proactive in doing that. Also, we were able to have a few junior events at the end of last year, as test events to see how the guidelines were being followed.
“In terms of the executive, we were quite happy in what we were able to accomplish. We also had a lot of online interaction with our players.”
He added, “The other thing that we’re focusing on is sending tennis into the communities. Tennis is seen as an elitist sport.
“We wanted to take our coaches and send them into the communities to bring the kids and the players out, (and) identify the talent. We’re going to use 2021 to focus on community development of the sport.”