Victorious Manders pays tribute to mother
Gavin Manders paid a heart-warming tribute to his late mother after his triumph at last weekend’s Professional Tennis Registry Championships in Hilton Head, South Carolina.
Bermuda’s No 1 player lifted the title at the first attempt after beating Californian Chris McBride 6-3, 6-3 in the final at the Van Der Meer Shipyard Racquet Club.
Manders’s triumph came exactly four weeks after his mother, Disa Potgieter-Oubella, a former Warwick Academy teacher and Bermuda Lawn Tennis Association vice-president and youth development officer, passed away from illness.
“The championships was more than an event for me with the recent passing of my mother as one of the last things she told me was to make sure I go no matter what happens,” Manders said. “She told me it was a great opportunity to grow in my profession as Tucker’s Point head pro and that she wanted me to go and share my passion for the game and new tennis management company [Manders Tennis Management] with everyone I meet.
“I had to book the ticket and register for the event while she was in hospital still fighting her illness not knowing what state she would be in when it was time to go. I told her I wouldn’t go if she wasn’t better and she made me promise her that I would go no matter what happens.
“So it’s not just about winning a title for me, it’s bigger than that to me. It’s about making my mother proud and growing to become, not only a better tennis professional, but a better person.
“I know that’s what she would have wanted for me, and I use that fuel every day since she’s been gone to continue on my path.”
Manders also beat the defending champion Dillip Mohanty and No 1 seed Julien Heine — who retired with an elbow injury after losing the first set to his Bermudian rival 6-1 — en route to the title.
“It’s the first time I ever entered the event,” Manders said. “But I graduated from Van Der Meer Tennis Academy who founded the Professional Tennis Registry in 1976.
“It was special for me to go back to where it all started and battle it out against top teaching pros from around the world. And to have my coach Sam Maybury watch me for the first time in an international event made it even more special. It’s a great feeling to know that my level of play for my age and division is elite on the international stage.
“These championships are just a stepping stone for me to prepare for Davis Cup this year and use this win to gain momentum towards the bigger goal of representing Bermuda on the international stage and continuing to do my part in raising the level of tennis in Bermuda.”