By L.K. Hewlett
St. Kitts Reporter
Students from seven local schools participated in this year’s annual International Tennis Federation Mini Tennis Competition held at Warner Park this Tuesday. The event, now in its ninth year was sponsored by S.L. Horsford and Company Ltd. and saw participants from grades two through four.
During the opening ceremony, Vernon Springer of the Ministry of Sports thanked S.L. Horsford for their unwavering sponsorship and support of the event.
“We’d like to thank S.L. Horsford for coming on board again this year. They have been a part of this event for the past six years and have added to their sponsorship by adding equipment for the winners this year. We feel that this can go a long way in terms of the development of lawn tennis in the federation. This programme was organised by the Ministry of Sports through our former tennis coach Denzil Caines and we have had the services of Ludis Francis who had joined the department as the lawn tennis coach and she has done a tremendous job over the past years. S.L. Horsford has committed themselves to a federal high school lawn tennis programme that will incorporate high schools in both St. Kitts and Nevis,” Springer said.
Wallace Wilkin, the Marketing representative from SLHorsford & Co. Ltd. said that his company saw the sponsorship of the tournament as a chance to help develop the youth of the federation.
“We see this sponsorship as an opportunity to develop young people in a sport that has many opportunities in the future. I want to implore you all to view tennis as a sport that can take you places. I know of past tennis players from St. Kitts who benefited tremendously from this sport by gaining overseas college scholarships. We don’t want you to just stop at getting a scholarship or a degree, we hope to one day turn on our tvs and see you playing professional tennis and making lots of money and representing your country proudly,’ Wilkin said.
Dave Connor, acting Director of Sports in the ministry said that aside from forming a high school tennis programme, the ministry hoped to get a coach who would be able to train local coaches for the programme. He also added that the ministry wanted to start a national tennis programme. He encouraged the participants at the tournament to use every opportunity to get practise, not just playing during school practise time.
“When the tournament is finished, don’t wait until your coach shows up at your school to practise. Now that you have the equipment, you are able to practise after school. Get on your parent’s to take you to Warner Park or Newtown or wherever there is a court. Get your friend to knock balls with you or come to the park, the tennis coach is always here and she is willing to work with you. Use the tools that you have been given to help further your development. This department has made a commitment that we want to see lawn tennis stepped up and that is something we are serious about,” he said.
The students displayed skills in various categories such as racket bounce, forehand and backhand volley, backhand and forehand ground stroke, and serve advantaged court. They also competed in actual tennis games playing half court and full court games.
The following students won in various skill categories: Zynzelle Pemberton (grade 2 girls), Naseem Thompson (grade 2 boys), Owencia Hanes (grade 3 girls), Jaleel James (grade 3 boys), Kilsy Mittrel (grade 4 girls) and Tahir Hanley 9grade 4 boys).
Irishtown Primary School won best overall school, beating George Moody Stuart, Tucker Clarke, Cayon, Bronte Welsh, St. Joseph’s and Dr. William Connor.