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Gavin Manders just wants to be home despite becoming Bermuda’s top tennis coach

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Gavin Manders honoured Marco Warren when he did his ITF Level 2 coaching practical exams at Pancho Alvarino Tennis Academy in Valencia, Spain (Photograph supplied by Gavin Manders)

On the day he passed his final examinations in Spain to become Bermuda’s most qualified tennis coach, Gavin Manders just wanted to be at home.

Manders is in Valencia, Spain, where he completed the International Tennis Federation Level 2 coaching badge for advanced players yesterday, but his heart was back home where close friend Marco Warren was being laid to rest.

The 37-year-old, who witnessed Warren grow up and was close to the fallen footballer’s family, had Warren’s No 10 inscribed within a heart on the chest of the Bermuda shirt he wore during the course.

“I've passed everything so now I am a level two coach,” Manders said. “I did it with Marco on the chest because if there is anywhere in the world where I wanted to be, it was in Bermuda for his funeral.’’

Manders went through with the course with the sense that his departed friend would have wanted him to continue his quest to upgrade his qualifications as a tennis coach.

Gavin Manders with Miguel Crespo and Rafael Martínez at Pancho Alvarino Tennis Academy (Photograph supplied by Gavin Manders)

“Marco was somebody I believe to be really one of the greatest people that I knew and somebody that I considered not just a great champion on the field but a great champion of life,” Manders said.

“I know he would want me to continue to better myself just like he did.

“Being out here today with him on my chest on a Bermuda jersey was even more special for me. To pass these exams on the day that he has his homegoing, it was emotional, because I obviously wanted to be home but also at the same time excited to become the first ITF level two coach and knowing that what I can do with the information.

Manders’s course and travel costs were paid for the International Olympic Solidarity, an organisation with the aim of providing assistance to all national Olympic committees for athlete development programmes, and completing his qualifications in Spain was a real thrill.

“It’s been a great experience all around,” Manders said. “Spain is the mecca of tennis in the world and having the opportunity through the International Olympic Committee Solidarity is a great step for my development.”

Manders trained alongside five other coaches at the course and got to meet Miguel Crespo, who oversees all coaching education and is the author of most of the ITF educational book.

The attendees first spent a month doing the theory side and learning online before travelling to Spain for practical assessment, which includes spending at least ten hours daily on the tennis court.

Manders is also taking the opportunity before he returns to Bermuda next week to visit top tennis academies in Spain and get to see how they run their programmes.

“My whole goal is to help Bermuda tennis get to the next level, share my passion for the game with as many people as possible and this just made me a better person overall, a more experienced coach,’’ said Manders.

Bermuda Olympic Association secretary-general Branwen Smith-King said they were excited for Manders to get this opportunity to improve himself.

“Olympic Solidarity offers programmes for coaches to go for further education,” Smith-King said.

“He was nominated, went through the process application and was accepted, which is really fantastic. He is quite an accomplished player and working on his coaching résumé at the moment.

“I am really excited for him and excited for Bermuda lawn tennis. I am pleased that tennis has taken advantage of this opportunity. We need to make sure that the coaches apply for this quite intense programme.”

At the BOA, Smith-King believes that it is playing its part in assisting the federations.

“We are doing our best to support our federations and we are beginning to apply for such opportunities,” Smith-King said. “This is another source of support. I would like to congratulate him for this. It’s a sacrifice for him, it’s a personal commitment.”

There is no rest for Manders as he is part of the Bermuda team heading out for a Davis Cup assignment in Paraguay this month. He is also in the side for the Island Games, which takes place in Guernsey in July.

It is 15 years since Manders started representing Bermuda in the Davis Cup. He has been coaching since the age of 15 and was handed the task of mentoring the national junior team from the time he was 24.

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Published June 02, 2023 at 8:00 am (Updated June 01, 2023 at 10:15 pm)

Gavin Manders just wants to be home despite becoming Bermuda’s top tennis coach

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