It is the dream of Dale Clake, president of the Professional Road Tennis Association (PRTA), to make the Barbados Public Workers Cooperative Credit Union Limited Monarchs of the Court competition the biggest sporting event in Barbados.
“Basically, Monarchs of the Court is our flagship. There are still some people in Barbados who do not see sports as an area where people can earn revenue and generate an income from it. We have conceptualised a business approach to our indigenous sport, where players are given the opportunity to showcase their skills, win substantial prizes and earn income from our tournaments,” Clarke told Barbados TODAY.
This year, the first prize in the men’s category of the Monarchs of the Court is a car valued at $65,000 and $3000, the runner-up will earn $6000 and the losing semi finalists will each receive $2000 each. The female champion for the first time will drive away a vehicle also worth $65, 000 and will pocket $3 000. The losing finalist will take home $4000 and the semi finalists $1500 each. Clarke said his objective was to set a standard in road tennis, hence the attractive prizes.
“Winners of international tournaments win cars in addition to prize money. The players who compete in our tournament are the best in the world, therefore, we are giving them prizes to match their skills,” Clarke said.
One hundred players will compete in this year’s tournament. For the first time, a female novice and a mixed doubles categories have been added to the tournament.
“We are trying to attract a new demographic to road tennis. We created the female novice category because for several years the female element in road tennis has been on the back burner, we are trying to attract more women to the sport with this new division,” Clarke explained.
The first prize for the winner in the ladies’ novice section is $1000, the first runner-up will receive $500, the losing semi-finalists will get $250 for their efforts. Prize money of $1500, $500 and $300 will be awarded to the top players in the mixed doubles category.
The top ten ranked men and ladies players will not be allowed to participate in the mixed doubles. This is to prevent them from playing in two finals on the same night.
Clarke stated it was very difficult to organize the tournament and to produce the finished product. “It takes weeks of planning before there is a finished product we can offer to the public. A major problem is the lack of a home for road tennis on the island, so we have to create a venue to stage the competition and that is very costly.”
Clarke stated it was a bit challenging to attract sponsorship for the tournament in its initial stages due to the stigma attached to the sport.
“I think we have improved the image by taking road tennis out of traditional areas where it was played to various venues where the fans can feel comfortable taking their families. This has given us more leverage in getting sponsorship. We have been able to execute our marketing plan. The number of fans who attend the tournament have helped us to grow and carry out the plans we have for the development of the sport,” Clarke said.
The Monarchs of the Court start on September 10 and ends October 1, matches will be played each night for the first week of the competition.
“In the first week, the largest number of competitors will be playing in the competition, so matches will be played each night. The second week, the quarterfinals will be played. At that stage we will be playing about four nights. After that week we will be into the semifinals and finals,” Clarke said.
The Monarchs of the Court will be held at the Big Rock Arena on Spring Garden and there will be an entertainment package featuring several top entertainers on various nights of the competition.