Upping the ante


Road tennis is about to go where few domestic sports have gone before.

Following an initial announcement last year, president of the Professional Road Tennis Association Dale Clarke told Barbados Today this afternoon that the winner of this year’s Barbados Cooperative Credit Union Limited’s Monarch Of The Court Road Tennis Tournament will be driving away either a Hyundai or Kia Rio Sedan in addition to pocketing a cash prize of $3 000.

Dale Clarke is intent on pushing road tennis to greater heights.
Dale Clarke is intent on pushing road tennis to greater heights.

The competition starts on September 13 and is slated to run until the grand final on October 3.

“I remember when we announced last year that we were going to bring a car to road tennis this year, patrons were laughing and saying: ‘Oh! They can’t get a car for road tennis; they have to be getting that from Laurie Dash’. So this goes to show how far we have come,” he said, adding that gone were the days when road tennis players would be receiving $500 to $3 000 as the winner’s grand prize.

Mark Griffith was last year’s big prize winner.
Mark Griffith was last year’s big prize winner.

Clarke added: “People usually associate tennis with the urban communities so we want to decentralize it into the country. A road tennis player back in the eighties or even the late nineties would win five hundred dollars, in some cases two hundred dollars, but now playing for a car would generate the interest even throughout the country where we will have more road tennis players coming to be a part of the sport so we can get it up to a professional standard as quickly as possible,” Clarke told Barbados TODAY

The main prize last year for the competition was $10 000 which went to Mark Venom Griffith. This year those players that make it into the round of 16 will receive $200 each, losing quarterfinalists get $500 each, semifinalists will pocket $1,500 each, while the runner up will collect $7 000. In the women’s competition the road tennis queen will be taking home $7 000 while the runner-up receives $3 000.

Clarke said they were on course for a record-breaking number of females who have registered to compete, but he added he would still like to see more of them getting involved. He revealed that sponsorship had been good so far because businesses have seen the constantly growing interest in the sport of road tennis.

And in his continued efforts to raise the sport’s profile, Clarke revealed that this year’s tournament would be played at a new facility at Dash Valley, St George, where there would be seating capacity for a thousand spectators. He said it was not fully completed but would be ready in time for the September 13 start of the competition. Clarke added this would be the first time in road tennis’ history that such seating capacity would be provided for fans.

Clarke, who has been at the forefront of some of the most exciting tennis tournaments in the island in recent years, also stated there would be some innovations specifically catering to ensuring players and spectators were confident with things such as officiating.

“We will have a replay system. In past tournaments there have been some very controversial calls and with the stakes so high now we are trying to get the tennis at a stage where we can limit those bad calls. One of the things that we would have introduced over the past couple of years would have been challenges where that if a player believed that a ball was not in his or her favour or he or she saw the ball being ‘in’ when the opposition called it ‘out’, that he could make a challenge. Before it would have been you call the ball ‘out’ and that was it. So we are trying now to get technology in place to further assist us,” Clarke said.

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