Tennis pro denied posts by overseas coaches
Bermuda’s top tennis player claims he was “disrespected” after losing out to foreign workers for two coaching jobs.
Gavin Manders was overlooked for the director of tennis position at Rosewood Bermuda and also applied unsuccessfully for the coaching post at Coral Beach and Tennis Club in favour of coaches from Russia and the Czech Republic respectively.
Mr Manders believes he was pushed out of Rosewood, where he spent five years as head coach, when they partnered with Cliff Drysdale Tennis — an international management company — in June.
The 32-year-old, whose position was made redundant, was instead offered a lesser role as club professional, which would have involved him working under a director of tennis. He was also told he must dissolve his own company, Manders Tennis Management, which runs a programme at Fairmont Southampton Tennis Club, where he now works full-time.
Russian Yana Orlova, a former professional on the ITF Pro Circuit, was later appointed as the director of tennis, with Ashley Brooks, one of Bermuda’s leading women players, serving as club professional.
Ms Orlova, 27, previously worked for Cliff Drysdale Tennis in Amelia Island, Florida. Mr Manders said he was particularly upset at the way he was treated by Rosewood.
He said: “Now we have a foreigner taking a position that a Bermudian can do.
“In all the years that I’ve played tennis in Bermuda, I’ve never been more disrespected than I was at the end of my tenure.
“The way that it ended was definitely unprofessional.”
He said that letting the Cliff Drysdale Tennis programme into Bermuda “is a bit like letting McDonald’s or Burger King in”.
Mr Manders expressed concern the local tennis professionals would be forced to work under those brought in by the international group.
He said: “It has its benefits for sure, but it needs to be done in a proper way before it gets out of hand.
“We need everyone to know that we’re not happy, things haven’t been done fairly and we need to be protected moving forward.
“It’s not like you don’t have a bunch of qualified pros here.”
Mr Manders is the island’s most successful singles player in Davis Cup history.
After losing his position at Rosewood, he applied for a post at Coral Beach. He was interviewed, but turned down in favour of incumbent Monika Drabkova, 31, of the Czech Republic, whose work permit is understood to have been renewed for three years.
David Lambert, president of the Bermuda Lawn Tennis Association Pro Registry, said the situation at Rosewood “should have been handled in a different way”.
Mr Lambert said that the BLTA and BLTA Pro Registry had met with tourism minister Jamahl Simmons, when they learnt about plans for the programme at Rosewood.
He added that a later meeting was held in April with home affairs minister Walton Brown and permanent secretary Rozy Azhar.
Mr Lambert said: “They told us there was nothing confirmed and nothing concrete.
“Then we look at The Royal Gazette and there’s a young lady teaching at Tucker’s. Everyone is looking at me like, ‘What happened?’ I didn’t have an answer.”
Regarding Coral Beach, Mr Lambert noted Ms Drabkova’s title was tennis and tourism marketing specialist, but that she was also working as a coach.
He said: “What stopped a lot of the local coaches moving for that particularly position is that they said you had to have a degree in marketing. Of course, none of the coaches had a degree in marketing. But we come to find out that the same young lady is coaching.
“We learn that the young lady was hired to look after marketing, which is fine, but you’re not going to see every marketing manager on the court teaching tennis.
A home affairs ministry spokeswoman said it was the Government’s policy not to discuss individual cases but that “generally speaking, any complaints of this nature are always fully investigated”.
She added that it had been agreed at prior meetings that the BLTA would be consulted before issuing work permits for tennis positions.
The spokeswoman said that a government representative would attend a meeting with the BLTA Pro Registry on August 29.
She added: “We will continue to support the hiring of Bermudians and continue to promote that strenuously.
“If there are circumstances which create the need to hire a non-Bermudian, then those circumstances will be considered with the intent that a suitably qualified Bermudian must always be hired first.”
A press statement released by Cliff Drysdale Tennis in June described Ms Orlova as “an accomplished player who has competed professionally on the ITF Pro Circuit”.
Paul Telford, managing director at Rosewood, said Mr Manders had been offered a position “along with the opportunity to learn Cliff Drysdale’s methodology”.
He added: “However, there was a conflict of interest given the management company he had launched in July 2017, MTM, which has provided tennis management services at a competitor resort on-island since last year.”
Mr Telford said Rosewood was “disappointed” but added: “We are excited to say that a Bermudian has eagerly accepted the role.”
Coral Beach and Tennis Club declined to comment.