#By BRENT STUBBS
#Senior Sports Reporter
#AS she demitted office, having served as president of the Bahamas Lawn Tennis Association for the past two years plus, Darnette Weir revealed that she had a very “productive” tenure.
#Weir left office as president on Saturday during the BLTA’s annual general meeting. Despite the pouring rain and health measures imposed by COVID-19, a large gathering of supporters turned out for the election of officers at the National Tennis Centre.
#After a failed legal attempt in the Supreme Court earlier in the day to halt the proceedings, Weir’s brother-in-law Perry Newton won the presidency race 117-14 over former female national team player Dyphany Mortier.
#Looking back at her tenure in office, Weir said her platform was about growing tennis in the Bahamas, inclusiveness, transparency, accountability and the importance of coaches education.
#“Further, as an executive board, we have been very decisive in our decision makings which at times may have been unpopular,” Weir said. “However, this current administration, upheld the tenants of the board’s code of ethics, one of which is: “dedicated itself to leading by example in serving the needs of the association and its members and also in representing the interests and ideals of the International Tennis Federation and the tennis community at large.”
#The ITF, according to Weir, continues to overwhelmingly support the BLTA’s national programmes and the body of work that they did as an association.
#“This administration hosted two coaches education courses, one in March 2019 (4-day course) and the other in August 2019 (12-day course),” Weir noted. “The response was amazing and the results outstanding with 14 participants and 12 participants respectively and a 100 per cent passing rate.
#“These sessions included participants from Freeport and New Providence, facilitated by the ITF development officer for the Caribbean, John Goede, and sponsored by the Olympic Solidarity.”
#As the new board takes office, Weir said she hopes that their membership in the Family of Islands would have the opportunity to participate in the next BLTA coaching education seminar.
#“This year the ITF has recommended that the Bahamas be considered to implement a Recognition of Coaches Education system,” she revealed. “What this means is that no longer would we need an ITF representative to facilitate these coaching courses for the Bahamas, but with such a system in place, our certified level II coaches will be allowed to serve as facilitators. This is certainly a big feat for our association.”
#Expressing her gratitude to the men and women who served with her in office, Weir noted that their administration worked diligently over the past two years to promote and to grow the sport of tennis and set standards that augur well for the association.
#“I take this opportunity to salute all of our national tennis athletes, along with our national coaches who have served on national teams over the past two years,” she lamented.
#“We have fielded the Jr Davis Cup/Jr Fed Cup Teams, the World Junior Competition Teams, 12U Sub-region Caribbean Team, the Davis Cup Team and the Fed Cup Team. Noteworthy with honourable mention are our 2018 Davis Cup Team which won the tie in Costa Rica, our 2018 Fed Cup Team which emerged finalist in the promotional round in Ecuador and our 12U Sub-region Caribbean Team which placed third in Dominican Republic in 2019.”
#Weir also noted that the BLTA gained a great social media presence on Facebook and Instagram, which allows us to showcase our work as an Association to the world at large.
#“This also allows the association to remain relevant in an ever changing world,” she stressed. “Through this medium platform, many near and far have seen our passion for community based ‘grass root’ junior programs (Play Tennis Program for Beginners on Saturdays and the Ranfurly Home for Children Outreach Program/Nazareth Children’s Center Outreach Program during the week).
#“There have been many highlights of our athletes’ achievements; timely dissemination of information of tennis events/tournaments/etc.; a robust coaches education and a referee training program. Our referee’s training program offered included 12 participants from New Providence and 8 from Freeport. This increased the pool of eligible referees for our local tournaments.”
#Additionally, Weir said her administration promoted inclusiveness in tennis to grow the sport and to be a more united force. She said the BLTA has improved relations with their tennis associates over the past two years.
#“We have been working closely with the Grand Bahama Tennis Association whose president serves as one of our committee members; we have ratified the Abaco Tennis Association (ATA) this year under the BLTA and we have been in talks with Eleuthera Tennis to do the same,” she outlined.
#While Hurricane Dorian left its destruction behind last year, Weir said the BLTA was able to hold a fundraiser tournament and donated $1,800 to the Abaco Tennis Association for nine (9) displaced members in the tennis community and $1,400.00 to seven (7) displaced members in Grand Bahama.
#Here in New Providence, Weir said the BLTA was also able to bridge the gap in promoting inclusiveness by inviting the IFT’s Development Officer and one of their Council members to meet with executives of the Nassau Lawn Tennis Club and Gym Tennis Club.
#“This administration has also given overwhelming support to the Southwest Tennis Club,” she further mentioned. “This tennis club is also a community-based club that seeks to cater to the social needs of kids in the surrounding community who participate in its program.
#“Additionally, my administration reached out to the Lyford Cay Tennis Club and the Albany Tennis Club in inviting both clubs to be a part of any one of the Association’s junior or senior events.”
#Once they continue along this trajectory, Weir said tennis in the Bahamas would undoubtedly grow, as they seek to bring tennis back to the prominence it once was.
#Under her tenure, Weir said her administration can boast of having the following “firsts” in tennis:
#1)The first BLTA logo which displays a professional identifiable imagery on our communications.
#2) Implementation of BLTA’s first “In Good Standing” policy. This allows for equity in enforcement as it relates to breaches and what is expected as BLTA members.
#3) Ratification of BLTA’s first Family Island Tennis Association.
#4) Implementation of BLTA’s Subvention criteria for Tennis that has been disseminated to the wider tennis community for the first time in the Association’s history. This promotes transparency and in this way, players would know what the requirements are and those who fall short would know what they need to do to reach the mark.
#“This administration has also added a few 14s and 16s tournaments to the calendar to ensure that players are participating more to better their game,” Weir added.
#“I would like to take this opportunity to give honorable mention to those auxiliary arms that have been an integral part of the growth and development of tennis during her administration.
#They included the Grand Bahama Tennis Association, IC Bahamas (10s and 12s Tournament), the South West Tennis Club, Tennis Bahamas (Albany), Eleuthera Tennis (Hartie Johnson and others) and the Abaco Tennis Association.
#Weir said her administration blazed the trail in sports administration in the trenches for over the past two years plus.
#“As administrators, we were good stewards of the association’s resources,” she stressed. “The positive contribution we continue to make to the Sports arena is being echoed by many. I take this opportunity to thank my executive team for unselfish services rendered during the 2018 – 2020 term.”
#They included Ceron Rolle, first vice president; Timothy Dames, assistant treasurer; Chilean Burrows, secretary; Nadine Munroe assistant secretary; Wesley Rolle, Philip Major Jr and Marvin Rolle, as Council Members.”
#She also expressed her gratitude to former presidents J. Barrie Farrington, Mickey Williams, Edith Powell and Vicky Knowles-Andrews, who supported her administration in some form or another.
#Weir said it was former president Elwood Donaldson, who gave her the opportunity to grow as a General Secretary (for four years) under his presidency. In becoming the president, Weir said the ITF, the Ministry of Youth Sports and Culture, the Bahamas Olympic Committee and the media houses through their public relations team really made her tenure a rewarding one.
#“I also wish to honor the memory of our fallen former president, Mary Shelley, who passed away last year and was a staple at each AGM and one who gave unselfishly toward tennis in the Bahamas,” Weir said. “May her memories live on.”
#With a new change in leadership during the pandemic in the aftermath of the catastrophic hurricane from last year, she prays that God will continue to bless the BLTA and the Bahamas as it presses forward towards the 47th anniversary of Independence this weekend.