Posted on

Tennis in SVG… My Perspective


Fri, Nov 18. 2011

Editor, I have pondered for some time now as to whether I should voice my feelings on the game of Tennis in SVG. In particular to point out the shoulders that have been the foundation on which I stood as a National Player and Student Athlete.{{more}} One of the main issues I have is that of acknowledgment to those who have paved the way and have never been given the National Recognition they rightly deserve.

I began the game of Tennis in 1985/86 by simply hopping over the fence to get into the tennis court at Murray’s Road, now the Grassroots Tennis Club run by my friend Grant Connell. While the game was not natural to me, I was ably coached and encouraged by Tony Boyea who never accepted a penny from my Mom and coached my sister and me for free over the years.

Then as regional tournament time came around, Mr. Michael Nanton provided the support which allowed me to travel to both Trinidad and St Lucia to take part in tournaments that allowed me to develop my game. Miss Merlene Forde later made the contact which allowed me to pursue higher education in the United States on a Tennis Scholarship. These were the folks who made it happen for me. These are the folks who have quietly given of themselves to this game we all love so much, and my success is just as much theirs. Most important, I am but just one Vincentian who has benefitted from their sacrifice.

I would like to point out a few things that many people may not necessarily know. Mr Michael Nanton is one of the main reasons Tennis is where it is today. The National Facility at Villa was his dream and passion for years before anyone ever conceived its possibility. I remember when I was only 12 years old, while in his office at Cable and Wireless, he showed Grant and me the plans for what he hoped to become a reality for a tennis centre. How quickly we forget in St Vincent, the people who planted the seed and laid the ground work for what we enjoy today. It is a travesty that the average junior today does not know that little history and that Mike has NEVER been given the National Recognition he so rightly deserves for taking Tennis to a place that allowed its development to be where it is today. It saddens me that the Stadium Court named in Honor of his brother Mr Stuart Nanton no longer has the sign that bears his name. If it were not for the Nanton’s vision and dedication, the Tennis Centre would have never come into being. Indeed the Taiwanese Gov’t and then NDP worked together to build it, but without the Nanton’s steadfast contribution, we can only imagine.

That said, there are many before me who have also paved the way for others as well, and Mike himself, a historian in his own right, is the source that needs to be tapped to document these Vincentians and the historical context from whence the game came. It is my hope that the day will come soon that the powers that be honor the stalwarts and remember from whence we came.

John H B Frederick. MD