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Tennis tourney promises to be strongest yet, says Games organiser Gordon

The NatWest Island Games tennis tournament will be the most competitive in the history of the biennial competition.

That’s the assertion of Games director of tennis Ian Gordon who is confident Bermuda can improve on their impressive medal haul at the Isle of Wight two years ago.

He also believes the tournament will the highest level the Island has seen since the XL Open was scrapped in 2009.

“I’ve been involved in five Island Games now and every year the level of competition has got better and better,” said Gordon, who expects more than 80 players to compete in Bermuda from July 13 19.

“The very top level of the tournament has been always been of a high standard, but what’s happened over the past number of Games is that the level and intensity of the competition just keeps going up.

“I think this will probably be the strongest tennis tournament the Island Games has seen.

“There are a couple of players coming over that have senior world rankings. There’s also some outstanding junior players so there will be no easy competition.”

Gordon believes that Bermuda hosting its first Island Games has sparked an renewed enthusiasm in local players, coaches and officials.

He said: “The XL Open hasn’t happened here for quite a number of years, and that tournament was great for tennis in Bermuda because it got people excited about the sport.

“It got ball kids and local officials involved, meeting the players and sampling the tournament vibe all that has kind of fallen away.

“One thing the NatWest Island Games tennis tournament has done is get ball kid training reinstituted.

“We’ve got our kids from the Pepperidge Farm Junior Programme involved, we’ve gone out to the schools, and we’ve re-energised the local officials.

“I think people will be surprised at the standard. It’s probably a bit similar to the qualifying rounds of the XL Open, and that’s another reason why we need to have officials and ball kids because there’s a lot at stake for these players.”

Bermuda won several medals at the previous Games, including gold and silver in the men’s doubles, and Gordon is optimistic the Island can build on that success.

“It’s hard to say how well Bermuda will do,” added Gordon. “At the last Island Games the team was successful, winning medals in the men’s singles, women’s singles and men’s doubles that should be our benchmark for expectation.”

“There’s about 12 Island competing altogether in the men’s and about eight on the ladies side. There’s still one island that we’re waiting for confirmation from. There will more than 80 tennis players altogether, plus their coaches, so it will be a big crowd of people.

“It will be great opportunity for our players. Bermuda, quite frankly doesn’t fund sport well, so our top junior players, once they have graduated into the senior ranks, don’t have a lot of opportunities to play at a high level.

“The Island Games gives them a good opportunity to do that it’s a great competition.”

The format of the tennis competition will be the same as the Fed Cup and Davis Cup, with the team event taking place over the first couple of days, which will see each island playing two singles and a doubles knockout matches.

As the team event comes to a close, the early rounds of the singles and mixed doubles will begin.

Gordon added: “Over the course of the NatWest Games tennis will be played will on all seven days that’s a lot of tennis.

Bermuda tennis squad

Women’s team: Tyler Smith, Erica Bove, Jackie Lambert, Caitlin Gordon, Tara Lambert

Coach: Jerome Bradshaw

Men’s team (subject to change): Gavin Manders, David Thomas, Philip Cooper

Ricky Mallory and Steve Bean

Coach:

Photo by Mark Tatem Bermuda's ball boys have been training hard in preparation for the upcoming NatWest Island Games.

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Published June 01, 2013 at 9:06 am (Updated June 01, 2013 at 9:06 am)

Tennis tourney promises to be strongest yet, says Games organiser Gordon

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