Newly-elected President of the Bahamas Lawn Tennis Association (BLTA) Derron Donaldson thinks that it is the perfect time to restructure the men's national tennis team and that the first experiment should be at the Davis Cup tournament.
Since the country cannot be relegated any lower, now that the Americas Zone Group III and IV have been combined, mixing things up should not hurt. A fairly novice squad was selected a few days ago. Marvin Rolle is the only player on the team who has played on the Davis Cup level, with points and experience on the International Tennis Federation's (ITF) Tour. Donaldson is expecting him to lead the young team which includes Rodney Carey, Philip Major Jr. and Jody Turnquest. Dentry Mortimer is the captain.
Donaldson said: "I think they will put up a great fight and they are good players who can play up to that level. It will come down to the experience, and that might be the key. They have to know what to do when they are in a rally. Marvin has experience. He has been there and played there. This is probably his eighth or ninth time on the team. The other players, they don't have that experience at this level. They have the junior experience and that is good but this is world class, so we look at it as rebuilding.
"Three to four years from now, or the next Olympic year, they can be playing in the Olympic Games. This is us sowing a seed. We are planting that seed to grow a big tree. They won't be relegated into a lower zone because zone four is now combined with zone three, so now is the perfect time for us to do this."
The Davis Cup Tie is scheduled for June 18-23. There are 10 countries in the new group, and they will play in a round-robin format. The two winning nations will get a promotion into the Americas Zone Group II. The others will remain in the group since there is no relegation for play in 2013.
The other countries joining The Bahamas in the Tie are Aruba, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Panama, Trinidad and Tobago and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
"They made that rule early this year, to combine the groups," said Donaldson. "We can't go any lower and that is great for us. Hopefully, next year, Devin will be back and then we can have a combination of two juniors along with Devin and Marvin. By that time the players won't be considered juniors any more so that is a good combination.
"We have a lot of talent sitting here but they have no money to go play and gain that experience or exposure needed. In tennis you get old quick whether you believe it or not. At age 14 and 15 they need to be out there playing in big tournaments because you have persons who are turning pro at 16 and 17. Tennis is not like the other sports. You have to get away and get into the system. If you don't have points you can't get into tournaments, so it is difficult, especially when you don't have the financing."
Rolle was exempted from the trials last weekend as a result of winning the December Invitational and having Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) points. Only Major Jr., Turnquest and Rodney Carey played in the trials. Major Jr. defeated Turnquest, 6-0 and 6-0, and Carey got wins over Major Jr. and Turnquest. Carey defeated Major Jr., 7-6 and 6-1, and defeated Turnquest, 6-2 and 7-6.
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