New policy on foreign tennis professionals
Tennis pros from overseas will need to win approval by the Bermuda Lawn Tennis Association to get work permits, the Government said yesterday.
Walton Brown, the home affairs minister, said the move was made to ensure Bermudian tennis pros were given a fair opportunity to compete for jobs.
He was speaking after Bermuda's top tennis player, Gavin Manders, complained after he lost out to foreign tennis pros for two coaching jobs.
Mr Manders was overlooked for the director of tennis position at Rosewood Bermuda and was also unsuccessful in a bid for the coaching post at Coral Beach and Tennis Club.
The Rosewood job went to a Russian and the Coral Beach post was taken by a Czech.
Mr Brown told a press conference yesterday foreigners applying for work permits as tennis professionals in Bermuda would have to send their applications to the BLTA as well as the Department of Immigration.
He said: “The Department of Immigration has launched a new process of referring work permit applications for tennis personnel to the BLTA.
“This means that going forward, employers must send a copy of the work permit application with all supporting documentation to the BLTA at the same time they submit it to the Department of Immigration.”
Mr Brown added: “The BLTA must provide a written response to employers within ten working days from the date of the application is referred to them.
“Employers must submit the response to the Department of Immigration.
“If a response is not provided in the time frame, then employers must provide formal written notification to the Department of Immigration to advise that no response was received.”
Mr Brown said that the ministry would be able to reject the BLTA's recommendation.
The Royal Gazette earlier reported that Mr Manders said he was pushed out of Rosewood, where he spent five years as head coach, when they teamed up with international management company Cliff Drysdale Tennis in June.
His position was made redundant and he was offered a lesser role as club professional, which would have involved him working under a director of tennis.
Yana Orlova, a Russian former professional on the ITF Pro Circuit, was later appointed as the director of tennis.
Mr Manders later applied for a post at Coral Beach, but was 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.
Mr Brown noted yesterday that the new policy came about because of “challenges” to some work permits that had been issued. Mr Brown said: “Myself and the BLTA had a long dialogue and we came up with this as a solution.
“It is not contemplated to be extended to other sports professions as of yet, but it depends on how it evolves. It might very well be extended.”
Michael Wolffe, president of the BLTA, said the body was happy with the new policy.
He said: “We are pleased at the outcome of several months of the collaborative process.
“We see this as a win for tennis, in particular our local pros. We see this as a way of ensuring that our local pros have a fair method of ensuring placement at local tennis facilities.
“We know there's more work to be done, but we look forward to working with Government on this process.”
David Lambert, president of the BLTA pro registry, complained that Mr Manders's situation should have been handled better.
Mr Lambert thanked Mr Brown and the Department of Immigration for the new policy.
He said: “Our members will be informed of the steps and policy that Mr Brown has mentioned.
“Many of our members have represented Bermuda since the age of 12 and continue to represent Bermuda internationally right up to Fed Cup and Davis Cup level.
“Now they are back in Bermuda teaching tennis. Most of them are certified in the ITF syllabus, PTR syllabus and USTA syllabus.”
Mr Lambert added: “Our members are able to provide courses at all levels from the age of 3, with their first exposure to tennis, up to the age of 83 when they want to find their former level of play.”