AFFILIATE partners of the Guyana Lawn Tennis Association (GLTA), sponsors and parents gathered for the announcement of the prestigious 2015 Player-of-the-Year awards. All except coach Leyland Leacock were not surprised that he would cop the top award of Senior Male-of-the-Year with 600 points while dethroning Anthony Downes who won the award several times in succession in recent years.
Leacock edged out a close encounter with Daniel Lopes who came in second with 560 points with Downes trailing third with 540 points.
Young Nicola Ramdyhan for the second time was awarded Senior Female-of-the-Year with 630 points to finish the year ahead Aretta Dey (570) and Afruica Gentle with 410 points respectively.
The awards are donated annually by Dr Arthur Ingram Hazlewood, an overseas-based Guyanese who is an avid tennis fan and prominent dental consultant who also provides financial support to the Association each year.
Lopes claimed the award of Junior Male-of-the-Year with 630 points but not without the close encounter against Keenan Persaud with 613 points. Heimraj Resaul came in third with 504 points.
The Junior Female-of-the-Year End Champion was once again captured by Nicola Ramdyhan who amassed a whopping 840 points holding off Aretta Dey with 805 points. The young and potent Shivani Persaud also racked up an impressive 567 points.
A special award for Most Improved Player was given to the promising 12-year-old Joshua Kalekyezi, who only a year ago was playing Green Ball categories before being thrown into the Yellow Ball category where he immediately took on the challenges and made obvious commitments towards excelling. This award was donated by Norris McLean, who is also an overseas-based Guyanese tennis player and enthusiast.
The GLTA presented an Appreciation Award to Bounty Farm Ltd for their unwavering commitment each year to the association to assist with fundraising. Chief Accountant Garfield Wiltshire received the award on behalf of the company.
A short presentation titled ‘The Climb’ was made by the most recent tennis scholar Gavin Lewis, who left Guyana’s shores in January 2015 to pursue studies in Criminal Law and Psychology and play college tennis at the Coppin State University in Maryland.
President of GLTA, Grace McCalman, expressed her optimism about tennis in Guyana even as she winds down her tenure and sees the latter half of 2015 as a historic juncture that signals a new dawn for tennis in the nation. The association is spending much effort to foster better relations by developing policies and procedures to alleviate the inconsistencies of information transferred among members, clubs, parents and coaches.
An enhanced ranking system which is easier to understand was established and used to determine the overall winners.
She revealed that there were discussions with Guyana Olympic Association (GOA), Guyana Teachers Union (GTU) and the Department of Sport to tackle the two critical and basic factors of tennis development which are proper infrastructure and development programmes that expand tennis beyond Georgetown.
High on the Association’s agenda this year are working to implement the strategic plan for tennis in primary schools, refurbishment of the National Park courts and embarking on the development of the National Racquet Centre as a proper multi-complex facility that incorporates lawn tennis, table tennis, squash and badminton while making optimal use of the space available. This would have the potential to serve as an international hub for Caribbean region.
She appealed to all coaches to put egos aside and work together and learn from each other so as to make coaches’ workshops work and be productive.
President of the Guyana Olympic Association, Mr. K. Juman-Yassin advised that sporting associations must get on board with Dr Rupert Roopnaraine’s vision for sport in Guyana.
Trevor Williams, who represented the Department of Sport, received applause from the audience as he proposed that sportspersons should not pay airport tax. They should be recognised for the hard work that goes into preparation and upon return these persons should be welcomed by the media no matter the results posted.
He reiterated Government’s position to use lawn tennis and table tennis as pilots and to give full support to their undertakings.