Mission to take road tennis beyond our shores
Dale Clarke is proving that Antoine “Lil Man” Daniel and Mark “Venom” Griffith aren’t the only ones who can play big shots.
And as a result, road tennis players could be in for some more lucrative paydays in the not too distant future.
That’s because Clarke, the chief executive officer (CEO) of the Professional Road Tennis Association (PRTA), is partnering with television channel Caribvision to introduce a professional road tennis circuit in the region.
In an exclusive interview with Barbados TODAY this morning, Clarke, the man behind the sport’s two biggest events –– the Monarchs of the Court and Massy United Insurance Clash of the Titans competitions –– which offered close to $50,000 in prize monies between them, revealed talks had already got under way between the two entities as it related to forming a professional league.
He is set to leave the island tomorrow to meet with other stakeholders on the matter.
Clarke said the collaboration has come on the heels of the successful staging of the just concluded Massy United Insurance Clash of the Titans Finals, which was carried live by Caribvision –– an internationally broadcast television channel run by the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) –– to hundreds of thousands of viewers across Canada, the UK, North America and 23 Caribbean territories.
And once everything goes to plan, the professional circuit will be up and running by late 2015, early 2016.
“The PRTA and Caribvision are partnering to roll out a professional road tennis circuit throughout the Caribbean. It is my hope that by 2016 everything will be in order, and we will be able to launch a professional road tennis league in the region,” Clarke confidently explained.
While he chose not to disclose which island he would be visiting, he said the plan was to visit eight other islands by mid-2015.
The CEO said judging from the feedback which he had been receiving both locally and regionally, other islands were keen on getting involved in the sport.
“The people that watched the finals of the Massy United Insurance Clash of the Titans through Caribvision were very impressed. And I’m not only talking about people here in Barbados, because I’ve been getting some very positive feedback from all over the Caribbean.
“Our next move now is to try and get them involved. We all know that Barbados has some very good road tennis players, but for the circuit to successful, we need the other islands to participate,” Clarke explained.
Additionally, he outlined plans were already under way as well for the staging of another major road tennis competition on the island.
He told Barbados TODAY, negotiations were currently ongoing for the hosting of the Coverley International, which is slated for next February.
Clarke said it was his intention to host four major competitions in 2015, each with a minimum first place prize of $10,000.
“We are trying to make road tennis a professional sport and to do that we have to be able to reward the players with attractive prizes,” he insisted.
“Road tennis is our sport, it is indigenous to Barbadosand it is high time that we start to market it and take it to the next level.
“Apart from the Top Gear Festival, I would say the Massy United Insurance Clash of the Titans road tennis competition was the biggest sporting event in Barbados this year, and from hereon it is only going to get bigger and better,” Clarke stated.