Pressing the caution button
St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) is set to host a major tennis event here, from late October to early November.
Dubbed the SVG Cup, the event is labelled as a sports–tourism venture, which, from all reports, should have some international flavour.
Reports are that some players with pedigree on the professional circuit, should be descending on ours shores for this inaugural tournament.
This, in its intent, must be embraced as a plus for tennis and for the country.
However, in doing so, this country would have shelved the hosting of the International Tennis Federation’s junior tournament, which is normally held during the middle of August.
For the past ten years, St Vincent and the Grenadines would have hosted the ITF junior tournament, with a degree of success and administrative competence.
Without any precise data to go on, the mere influx of players, coaches, parents and other officials, surely would have brought in some much needed foreign exchange to the country.
Hence, the hotels which are located in the Villa area, the taxis, restaurants, eateries and the likes, would have been beneficiaries of the tournaments over the years.
An added fact too, is that such junior tournaments would have attracted youngsters, whose parents are of a fairly high economic standing.
SVG’s hosting therefore formed a triangle, as many of the young tennis players from all parts of the world, would have done the St Lucia leg, then hop over to St Vincent and the Grenadines and do the last stop in Trinidad or Tobago.
But as we have forgone the junior tournament this time around, hopefully, it is a one–off situation, as there is assurance that the tournament would return to our shores come 2019.
However, this must be certified by follow-up actions from our policymakers, who have to lobby and make decisive overtures to ensure that this valuable tournament is back on St Vincent and the Grenadines’ sporting calendar in the next 12 months.
The relevant authorities must be cognisant that for a few years, we were unable to host the Under-14 segment of the ITF junior tournament, because of the inadequacy of the facilities at the National Tennis Centre at Villa.
They must also be aware that the fight for that sporting economic pie in the region is real, and that there is no Caribbean unity when it comes to jostling for the hosting of such tournaments.
Therefore, all systems must churn in the right direction and the mechanisms fully operational, to plot the return of the junior ITF tournament next year.
This, though, may require intervention from the highest levels of the national political administration, to have more clout than the sole undertaking of the executive of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Tennis Association.
Getting in line with the emerging demands for international tennis tournaments and the necessary infrastructural development needed for the National Tennis Centre, to keep pace with others in the region are instructive in going forward, in a competitive market.
Surely sporting events, such as the SVG Cup, are always welcomed to these shores, as they not only provide some sporting hype, but open up our country to the wider world, as a tourist destination.
With the SVG Cup being the first effort of such a tournament, then it is pertinent that all the stops would be pulled out to make our debut hosting a grand and memorable affair.
But, we have to warn ourselves and err on the side of caution, thus avoiding the “dropping of the bone to chase the shadow”.
One cannot be overly confident of the SVG Cup and the possibilities of the spin-off, but it must be borne in mind, that the ITF junior tournaments have served us well in the past.
Let us all hope that in the interest of future development of tennis here in St Vincent and the Grenadines, that making the best of all the economic trickle downs, is foremost in all the decision-making processes.