‘Competition keeps getter better’
Mickey Williams gets to see some beautiful places during his travel as the supervisor for ITF and COTECC, the regional body for Central America and the Caribbean, but the job is demanding too, he says.
In Bermuda for about the tenth time, Williams's task is to see that the Bank of Butterfield Foundation ITF Junior Circuit Tournament runs smoothly.
Williams will take a week off after he leaves Bermuda tomorrow before he runs the next event in his native Bahamas from July 7 to 13. This week's tournament in Bermuda has involved about 100 players from 27 countries in the under-14s and under-18s, with most of them staying at Warwick Camp.
Some, after being eliminated, will leave to return to training or travel to the next event and a group of youngsters from Bermuda will leave next week to play in Bahamas. Other tournaments will take place next week in Aruba and then in Havana, Cuba.
“Generally [I travel] within the Caribbean and Central America and when I leave here on Saturday I'll have a week off and then I do a tournament in Bahamas, which is similar to this one but a level higher,” Williams said.
“I usually do Aruba but another supervisor is doing Aruba. There is a good contingent of Bermudians coming down for both the under 14s and under 18s. I do six or seven weeks, most of it between June and October but it stretches, really, from March to November. I'm primarily in the Caribbean region, from Bermuda, Bahamas, Puerto Rico, Aruba, Curacao ... those places.”
Williams added: “I've done this tournament all but one year since it started. This is the 11th year of the tournament and the level has improved significantly over those 11 tournaments. I have to say, this particular year the quality has been exceptional from the early rounds, with some very, very good players.”
Williams will be involved in a couple of local events in the Bahamas before travelling to Puerto Rico in September for another ITF Circuit Tournament.
“I enjoy it but it's not four or five weeks in a row which would be a bit much, but spread out nicely so it is enjoyable,” Williams said. “We had about 100 players here all together, 26 in the 14s and another 70-odd in the 18s.
“It gets to be very expensive so as soon as they are eliminated they leave, although here they get inexpensive accommodation at Warwick Camp. Traditionally, as soon as they are eliminated they leave, to either go to the next tournament or back to where they train, to prepare for the next tournament. A lot of them do online schooling and have to keep up with that by being online while they're here.
“At any given week there are a half dozen to ten of these tournaments all over the world. The circuits in Europe will be a lot more competitive so some of them come here thinking the competition will be easier, but that's not necessarily always the case.”
Williams enjoys the Bermuda hospitality provided by tennis officials David Lambert and Cooleridge Place, the BLTA president. “I love coming here and all the players love it as well, it reminds me of home,” said Williams.
“Coleridge Place and David Lambert, who organise this event, do an excellent job in taking care of the players in making them feel welcome, respected and have a good time. They go to the beach and last night a lot of them went to Harbour Nights.
“The only downfall has been the rain, we've had rain every day and today is the first day we haven't had rain. We have caught up with the matches now. Tomorrow we'll have semi-finals of singles and finals of doubles, boys and girls, and then on Saturday just the two under 18 singles finals.”