By Calvin Chapman
When the Guyana Lawn Tennis Association (GLTA) held their awards ceremony for 2017 at the National Racquet Center on Woolford Avenue on Friday night, local maestros Cristy Campbell and Anthony Downes were awarded the best senior female and male awards respectively, after another dominating year on the courts.
Campbell, who has only been playing tennis competitively for five years now, won the female player of the year award for the second consecutive year, while Jason Downes, who is undergoing intense training in Brazil, copped the accolade for a fourth year running.
After receiving the award, Campbell humbly expressed her gratitude in winning the award, “I wish to thank foremost God for good health and success, my family, especially my mom for understanding my neglect of family activities due to tennis commitments, my two coaches, Rebecca Mitchell and Dexter Lewis and my fitness trainer Tracy Chee-a-Tow and all my club mates at Roraima tennis club for constant practice and correction.”
Campbell expressed heartfelt thanks to all of the sponsors for unwavering support throughout the years, the tennis fraternity is forever grateful: “I’d also like to use this occasion to congratulate the Guyana junior team on winning the Cup of Guianas and I hope your victory serves as impetus to a successful 2018 and many more years ahead.”
Kaieteur Sport contacted Downes in Guyana’s neighbouring Brazil’s city of Boa Vista and he posited during a telephone interview that, “I’m happy to receive this award again and retain my number one spot. I like to win and the feeling of winning is all a good one, so to receive the award of best player of the year for tennis is a great achievement in my career.”
During the presentation ceremony which included in its attendance President of the Guyana Olympic Association (GOA), K.A. Juman Yassin, former Gecom Chairman Dr. Steve Surujbally and assistant director of the National Sports Commission (NSC), Brian Smith, head of the GLTA, Jamal Goodluck noted that the highlight of his association’s year was their triumph in the inaugural Cup of the Guianas tournament.
Goodluck explained that although Guyana is plagued with a lack of facilities issue, they still managed to come out victorious in the event that was competed amongst the hosts Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana. More importantly, Goodluck stressed for building on the successful hosting of the event which was competed in the under-12 to under-18 categories, to see increased participation by players and also nations, as the GLTA sets out to make the Cup of the Guianas a premier tennis event in the region.
Mae’s Secondary, Afruica Gentle, who partnered with Cristy Campbell in their doubles victorious campaign in 2017, won the Junior Female player of the year award. In her address, Gentle thanked her parents, coaches Dexter Lewis and Rebecca Mitchell along with her doubles teammate Campbell who always pushes her to be the best that she can be.
Meanwhile, the Junior Male player of the year went to Joshua Kalekyezi. The form three Queen’s College student thanked his parents and friends for encouraging him, especially Heimraj Rasul and Jordan Beaton and he hopes to have another good year as it’s a great honor to receive the award.
The most improved boy after the 2017 season was Vadenand Rasul of Marian Academy, while Alana Chung of School of the Nations was adjudged most improved girl.
As the GLTA continues to battle with the issue of limited facilities, assistant director of the NSC, Brian Smith, during his address at the awards ceremony, noted that the tennis community is set to benefit soon as the plans in the current upgrading of the National Gymnasium sports complex, includes a Tennis Court. Meanwhile, the NSC’s multipurpose facility in Bartica, which is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2018, will include a tennis court as well.
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