The state of tennis in Guyana could be ranked among the top ten of the 22 countries within the region, according to International Tennis Federation (ITF) Development Officer of the English-speaking Caribbean, Anthony Jeremiah.
Jeremiah shared this perspective with Stabroek Sport in a recent interview.
Taking time off from a training session he was having with the team of players who are in their final stage of preparation for the Junior Davis Cup and Fed Cup, Jeremiah noted that while tennis in Guyana is still in need of development in several areas, he is very pleased with the current condition of things, given the limitations faced by Guyana’s tennis fraternity.
According to Jeremiah, while he could not say where Guyana is placed overall, he could guarantee that the country is among the top ten.
Jeremiah was in Guyana for one of his annual visits with the local tennis fraternity.
Apart from the regular discourse with the Guyana Tennis Association (GTA) about their agenda, Jeremiah was also here to assist the juniors in their training and to administer a Level One coaching examination to three individuals.
Meanwhile Jeremiah identified some of the developments that he has seen over the past five years as his criteria for ranking the country.
“Guyana now has a coaching accreditation system. They don’t have the documentation but they have the coaches, six years ago Guyana did not have Level One coaches now they have two Level Two and hopefully with the accomplishment of these coaches they should have six, seven Level One coaches. Guyana never used to participate in team competitions, ITF team competitions, and now this would be their third year competing in team competitions, and this means there has been tremendous success. In terms of administration, in terms of communications with ITF it is, I would say, 100% improved, because we have had regular communications,” Jeremiah disclosed.
All of this, Jeremiah said, was achieved through the association’s five-year plan which it has been following; a plan that came to an end with the close of 2011.
A new five-year plan has now been written up that will cover the association’s goals for the next period running from 2012-2016.
“What we’ve done is look at the areas they have accomplished and we have put the areas that have not been accomplished into the new five-year plan and we’ve put some timelines at the meeting that we had,” Jeremiah related.
He also mentioned his satisfaction with the school development programme that the GTA is currently running, headed by national coach Shelly Daly-Ramdyhan.
“The development aspect has been going good because we have a lot of schools in the programme which Shelly coordinates. It’s about 15 [schools] which is a good number, even though we could have more what we have to look at is the resources, the manpower and the courts, the facilities. Facilities, I think are the major component in this whole thing, and we have to see how best we can get that part off the ground,” the Trinidadian commented.
A proper training facility, Jeremiah said, is a key component for the ultimate elevation of tennis in Guyana. He also stressed that it should not just be any facility but a national training facility that should be owned and controlled by the national tennis body.
“Most of the facilities are either privately owned, like even Pegasus. I heard they have started to do some work on the park, but that facility does not belong to the association, the facility belongs to the park or the government. So basically the association is doing their programmes on borrowed facilities, whereas having their own facilities then they can dictate how long the programme can run and how often they use the court, so that is supposed to be a long term goal. I believe all associations should have a national training centre, because most of the regional countries right now have national training centres. Everybody is trying to go in that direction,” Jeremiah said.
He also commented on the effects that the lack of one centralized training area has on the training of the players. “The players are doing fine – I always look for high expectations and I think the reason why we are not getting what I would like to see, more intensity, is because it comes back to the facility and the time everything is limited. Basically to actually get them to focus at one facility on a regular basis and spend the time I think they are not able to do it, because it’s not available but they need to put in more time.”
He did, however, point out that while not having a national training centre is an impediment, the availability of more facilities is a great compensation.
“It is good that they will have access to more courts, although they have not had their facility at least having access to more courts in different areas, there are courts coming about but I still believe that they should have their own national training centre.”
A lack of facilities was a point Jeremiah stressed in his visit last year and since then the courts at the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports National Racquet Centre, at Non Pariel have been completed and are being used.
Additionally the courts at the National Park are currently being rehabilitated. Apart from these, tennis players are often afforded the use of courts at the Pegusus Hotel, and the GBTI Recreational Centre.
While here, Jeremiah also paid a courtesy call at the National Sports Commission, during his four-day visit where he got to bring Director of Sports, Neil Kumar, up-to-date with some of the developments in tennis.
“I met with the Director of Sport yesterday (Saturday), it was basically a courtesy call. It was short because he had a meeting. We just discussed the support, we discussed what is happening in terms of development through the coaches’ education, through the different programmes, but we didn’t mention some of the specifics like the courts and all of that.”