Perry Newton: ‘So far it’s been a very good year’


Senior Sports Reporter

Despite the fact there has been some turmoil in the Bahamas Lawn Tennis Association over the past few years, Perry Newton is still determined to manoeuvre through the storm to carry out his mandate as president.

“So far it’s been a very good year,” said Newton in a candidate interview as he watched the BLTA’s final trials for the final two spots for the men’s Davis Cup and ladies’ Billie Jean King Cup teams.

“We started off with a junior tournament, which catered to the under-14 and under-16 division. We’ve only had two tournaments so far and we’ve seen some tremendous growth in the programme here at the National Tennis Centre.”

At the trials over the weekend, Donte Armbrister and Marvin Rolle earned the rights to travel with Kevin Major Jr and Denali Nottage to Paraguay to play in the Davis Cup next month, while Simone Pratt and Saphirra Ferguson will represent The Bahamas in the Billie Jean King Cup with Elana Mackey and Sydney Clarke.

Up next for the BLTA is the junior nationals, scheduled for June 10-11 for the under-8 and U-10 division and June 16-18 for the U-12 and U-18. Following that will be the International Tennis Federation’s Junkanoo Bowl from June 24 to July 2 with a number of players from around the world expected to participate. “The majority of our funding is accumulated during the first part of the year. We’ve already had four teams travel to compete and we are preparing to send our Davis Cup team off next month and the Billie Jean King Cup in July,” Newton said. “So we have a lot of funding to catch up too, but we are confident that we will be able to achieve our goals, despite the fact that funding has been an issue for us in recent months.”

Newton admitted that some of the issues off the court they are experiencing can be attributed to the ongoing feud over the election process that should have taken place two years ago.

However, a court injunction has forced the BLTA to halt their annual general meeting and election of officers as they wait for the outcome of the case in the magistrate’s court.

In the meantime, Newton said he’s going to continue his quest to go for a second term in office.

“We are just waiting on the ruling from the courts in that particular matter,” said Newton, who is expected to be challenged by Ken Kerr whenever the elections are held.

“It’s a tough situation. It’s been a bit long. It’s a tiring situation, but we have to stay focused.

“With that, although we’ve had some financial difficulties, we were able to put on a coaches’ developmental course last year and this year, we’re going to put on an official course. This would be the second one that we’ve had since I’ve been the president.”

In the meantime, Newton said they have been working with some of the Family Island associations in their quest to get them up to par and to be ready for the staging of the sixth Bahamas Games in July.

“The problem on many of the islands is that there are no public courts and that has hindered their progress,” Newton said. “At the same time, the court matter has made it even more difficult to accomplish all that we had hoped to achieve.

“We still have a team that is focused on meeting our obligations locally and internationally and so kudos to the team that has been working diligently. It’s been rough on everybody, but we’ve been working to make sure that we continue to function.”

In preparation for the Davis Cup and Billie Jean King Cup teams, Newton said he’s pleased to see the players who stepped up and made the effort to play for their country and not allow the issues off the court to derail them.

“We just have to get this court case resolved so that we can get on with the business of running this association,” he added.

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