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Tennis Entries Plummet - But McGregor Hopes Increased Numbers Will Participate In Gas Pro Open
André Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter
Entries in local junior tennis tournaments have plummeted over the past few years, but organiser Llockett McGregor is hoping that this year's Gas Pro Open Junior Tennis Championships will help to lift the level of participation in the sport.
With entries scheduled to close today, close to 90 young tennis players have been registered to participate in the February 23 and 24 tournament, which serves off at 9:00 each morning at the Liguanea Club in New Kingston.
McGregor, who noted the decline in participation, believes the tournament serves a key role in the development of the sport and its growth in popularity.
"We are managing to hold the numbers," said Llockett. "We were down in January (in terms of entries) but we are now back up. What normally happens is that at the beginning of the year when the juniors change age group, we normally have a falling off, but we are trying to keep strength.
"About two years ago, a tournament like this would have about 120 entrants, but we are down to about 90 now and pushing on. It's not where we want it to be, there is still a lot of improvement to do in terms of getting the juniors out," Llockett added.
This is the second year that Gas Pro is throwing its weight behind the competition that will feature five age group among the boys (10, 12, 14, 16 and 18 years old) and three among female competitors (12, 14 and 16 years old), and sales manager Simone Johnson was excited about her company's involvement.
"We see this as an event that is line with our vision statement in being a force for good. We believe in giving back to the youth of this nation, in developing their skill, and it's only fitting that the leading LPG marketing company in Jamaica be the ones that are at the forefront of developing the skills of our youngsters, whether it be academically or physically," said Johnson, during yesterday's cheque presentation at the Liguanea Club.
"Gas Pro is sponsoring the junior tournament and we want to develop the skills of these youngsters in tennis," she added.
Leroy Brown, honorary secretary of Tennis Jamaica, was also present during the brief ceremony and applauded the partnership being forged between the tennis fraternity and corporate entities like Gas Pro.
"It means a lot to us at Tennis Jamaica. Sponsorship is the lifeblood of any sport and we in Tennis Jamaica have been really fortunate to have some sponsors who consistently, year after year sponsor tournaments - especially our junior tournaments," said Brown. "Gas Pro has been doing this for years and they have promised us that they are going to continue because they are happy with what they are seeing, and we are grateful because it will certainly aid the development of the sport in the country."