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Coleridge: I have some big shoes to fill

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Coleridge Place has pledged to continue the good work of his predecessor David Lambert who stepped down as the Bermuda Lawn Tennis Association (BLTA) president yesterday.

One of the Island's most eminent tennis players, Place was voted in for a two-year term as Lambert's successor at the BLTA Annual General Meeting at the WER Joell Tennis Stadium.

The 56-year-old, who has served as BLTA president for the last four years, said he was excited about the challenge ahead and hoped to have a lengthy spell at the BLTA helm.

“I will continue to support all of the past efforts by the former presidents and continue to work with the International Tennis Federation which the BLTA have had a relationship now for over ten years,” said Place. “I'm also looking to build some more contacts with the Professional Tennis Registry (PTR) so we can play in more tournaments in the US.

“The wheels are already set and all we can do is continue to build on what the BLTA has in place.”

Place admits he has some big shoes to fill but felt he was the right man to collect the presidential baton from Lambert, his long-time friend and former doubles partner.

“Me and David have grown up playing tennis together,” he said. “We were two of the first Bermudians to attend a coaching course overseas when we were around 20. Since then we have been like a family when it comes to tennis development. We both raise funds for youth tennis and it seems like we have grown together over the years. It feels only right that I catch the baton he is passing on and continue to take tennis to the next level in Bermuda. I believe it's my turn and I feel confident.”

During his 11 years as BLTA president, Lambert has been bestowed with numerous honours including the Queen's Certificate and several Special Achievement awards received from the Government. In 2009 he was honoured by the ITF for his services to the game.

Although it's game set and match in terms of his presidency, Lambert still intends to assist the BLTA when and where he can.

“I think (Lambert) wants to retire and not be too active,” Place added. “We may be coming up with a little surprise for him because he deserves to be honoured for all his hard work.”

Tennis has been Place's passion for around 40 years. But had it not been for his ‘pushy' mother then his talents may have been lost to more popular sports on the Island like football and cricket.

“Tennis has been a passion in my life for the past 40 years,” he said. “My mother had a passion for tennis and used to send me for lessons from Cromwell Manders 50 years ago. Thank God she pushed me because I'd have rather been playing football or cricket back then.”

A serious motorcycle accident as a 16-year-old prevented Place from making his mark on the local junior circuit. With his right-arm paralysed Place was forced to spend several years away from the sport he loved.

Throughout his enforced hiatus, Place's desire remained undiminished and when he finally recovered, his determination to make up for lost time saw him become one of the most feared players on the Island.

“I didn't have much involvement in playing in junior tournaments because I had a motorcycle accident and broke both my arms when I was 16. I had to leave the sport for a long time as I was paralysed in my right arm.

“Thankfully it got better and I was able to compete and had a very exciting time playing in the senior tournaments.

“I became the number one seed at all levels of competition, singles, doubles and mixed doubles. I had some very good partners though.”

One the biggest challenges facing Place will be enforcing a mandatory ITF rule change which calls for all children under the age of ten to play with a softer ball.

He said: “My challenge is to make sure the committees and the clubs understand the ITF rule change, which is to be enforced in 2012.

“It will affect countries all over the world and I don't expect it to be a smooth ride.”

For the past six years Place has helped send junior players overseas to compete in ITF tournaments by holding his Birthday Golf Tournament Fundraiser at Belmont Hills.

Place added: “We're not only developing tennis players, we're developing young citizens.

“That's very important and something people sometimes forget.”

n www.blta.bm

New man in charge: Coleridge Place has taken over as president of the Bermuda Lawn Tennis Association, replacing David Lambert.
Coolridge Place takes over as President of BLTA replacing David Lamber holding a photo picturing them in their twenties.

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Published March 03, 2011 at 1:00 am (Updated March 03, 2011 at 8:19 am)

Coleridge: I have some big shoes to fill

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