The Moon is the first milestone on the road to the stars – Arthur C. Clarke
On the last Saturday of Spring – on a beautiful Caribbean day – Gregory Silver Fox Hinds laid out two road tennis courts and set up a hosting tent and entertainment center in the Parkside community park – a play area that adjoins PS 92, an elementary school on Winthrop Street in Brooklyn.
His goal was two-fold: To introduce road tennis to the youth and to organize a two-day road tennis competition to coincide with the annual Caribbean Heritage Month celebration.
The three-hour programme started at 11 a.m. and aout 60 youngt people participated, featuring many activities.
“I am just hoping to get one foot inside the school,” said an elated Hinds who was pleased with how the event came off, but awaiting feedback from the organizers.
He emphasised that his programme for the youth was more than just playing the game as he made reference to the mission statement that was mounted on the rail next to one of the road tennis courts:
“The goal of Pride of BIM road tennis programme is to promote the ideals of responsibility, sportsmanship, unity, teamwork, and fellowship, within a safe and positive environment,” it said.
“We are committed to providing youth programs that maintain the highest standards and a guarantee of fun, positive experience for everyone involved.”
Truth be told, Hinds is on a journey of love, one which began some years ago when the soccer club which he founded and led, died a natural death.
Now he is focused on developing his road tennis programme, which is one of the many unique sporting cells in the Diaspora. According to reliable sources, in Texas, for example, the game has a new name – Ro Ten Go. It is a fitness activity for families, and attracts corporate sponsorship. On the other hand, in Toronto, the game is played in a church basement as part of a monthly games and fundraising evening.
So is there a larger than life future for road tennis?
Leslie Gittens, a road tennis enthusiast, is an industrial investment and development specialist who is familiar with the growth of the game in the Diaspora. He applauded Hinds’ efforts to get the game into the schools while offering a few suggestions as a possible pathway forward.
“One day, I hope it will be soon, that we will begin to see the true economic potential of the game. Luckily, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel. All established sports have some things in common: a broad framework or strategy, a design and standards, easy access to equipment (kits), informal activity and a professional league, organizations and clubs, local and global opportunities, branding that attracts the attention of the big sponsors and a sanctuary – we have one for cricket at Kensington Oval.
“Indeed, our road tennis has great entertainment value. It is fast moving and muscular, it is intimate, it is visual, and it can easily be streamed LIVE. However, its leadership must go forward and accept the resistance that will arise from rebranding,” explained Gittens.
Unlike last year, no members of the professional Road Tennis Association of Barbados participated in the weekend tournament that attracted players from Brooklyn, Boston and Rockland County and Queens. The competition was easily won by Andy Williams.
Attorney-at-Law Ralph Thorne, QC, who was in the US attending Gabby’s book launch there, reached the finals of Saturday’s one-game, knock-out competition. Leader of the Opposition Mia Mottley was also in attendance.