Tennis in this island has made great strides over the past year, with the junior players competing admirably in local and regional tournaments.

That is the word from President of the Barbados Tennis Association, Dr. Raymond Forde, while addressing today’s official opening ceremony of the Barbados Junior International 2010 Championships at the National Tennis Centre in Wildey.

Dr. Forde disclosed that the junior development programme had grown from last year, to the extent that the Association had to seek alternate venues for the National Sports Council’s Under 13 programme.

"We have had inquiries for court usage during the day from nearby primary schools and more adults are also playing later in the evenings," he pointed out.

The President told the audience that after many years of toiling, begging and fund raising, the Association now had four flood-lit courts. "About 10 days ago we completed the re-surfacing of the courts and we now have a surface which is comparable to any of those on the west coast and is also more conducive to play. We expect to see the standard of our juniors rise quicker now that the surface has slowed down," he said.

Dr. Forde identified last year’s Serena Williams/Caroline Wozanaki exhibition match as contributing to an increased awareness and interest in the game among a wide cross-section of juniors.

Tennis players from 28 countries, including Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Britain, Costa Rica, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Suriname and Barbados, are competing in the week long championships. It is an International Tennis Federation Group Four junior world ranking event.

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