By Morissa Lindsay
If the organization of the just concluded Barbados Road Tennis Open is anything to go by then it is time to take the sport globally, says enthusiasts Trevor Ifill and Dale Rudder.
As one of the people who love the sport and wants to see it reached the international stage, Rudder said Barbados is ready to take road tennis to the world and the great organization of the Barbados Road Tennis Open is a good pilot forward.
“I think we are ready to go to the world. Kudos to the organizers like Adrian Donovan and those at the Sports Council for making it happen. I would say that we have got the talent, the interest and we certainly got the skills and technical ability to take road tennis to the world.
“I don’t really see anything that should be preventing us from having a World Championship or World Invitational of Road Tennis. I don’t see anything that should prevent us from taking up four to six of our top players and having a world tour. Things like that are necessary and we certainly got the expertise to do it,” Rudder explained.
Ifill on the other hand while he is confident Barbados’ indigenous sport is ready for the world stage, thinks that the government must first host a regional competition to see how local players match up against their Caribbean counterparts.
“It would be good to host a regional tournament before going international because you want to go in your own backyard before going in someone else’s backyard. So, I believe we are ready for it, I know we have a good group of people who are working together with the Barbados Road Tennis Association and they can pull it off,” Ifill said.
While both men shared similar point of views, Rudder especially handed Mark ‘Venom’ Griffith his flowers as a legend of the game and someone to draw upon when it comes to the tactical and physical aspect of road tennis.
In fact, Griffith was part of a Barbados team that visited Dubai last year to promote road tennis and if the sport should go global then the number one player is likely to be among those leading the way. Commenting on last Sunday’s Road Tennis Open Final, Rudder was complimentary of both Griffith and losing finalist Shakeem Nurse.
“I think we saw the birth of a new and exciting player in Shakeem Nurse and simultaneously we saw what true mastery of road tennis is in Mark ‘Venom’ Griffith. At the end of the day I would say that experience and tactical awareness along with extreme physical fitness is what brought Venom home. I saw Venom a few weeks back and he told me, ‘Rudder I am overweight and I will work real hard for this road tennis’.
“I use Venom as an example for all the young sportsmen and women across the island that I mentor or interact with because the man takes his sport extremely seriously. He is a professional who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes road tennis and not just playing it. I mean full preparation in terms of running, swimming etcetera. Do you know how many times I go down to Brandon’s Beach through the years and I see this man running in the 11 o’clock sun on the dead sand?
“I used to be like ‘wow if we had ten athletes from different disciplines with this kind of mentality it would put Barbados on the map’. Venom is just somebody to draw upon, he is somebody to learn from and I really love Shakeem; he is going to be great but I think he needs to take a page now out of Venom’s book now on the more physical and mental fitness and preparation for the game,” Rudder told Barbados TODAY.