Under strict Covid -19 protocols, the National Tennis Centre (NTC) located in Beausejour came alive this past weekend when former national tennis player and three times Sportsman for the Year, Vernon Lewis staged the VL Round Robin Tennis Classic.
Twelve of the island’s elite players showcased their talents ending with Joey Angeloni and Alysa Elliott winning the boys and girl’s singles championship; while Petersen George and Arron Gerald took home the boys doubles championship.
In the Girl’s final, Alysa Elliott a student of the St. Joseph’s Covent defeated Iyana Paul a student at the Leon Hess Comprehensive Secondary School in straight sets 6-1, 6-4.
In the Boys final, Joey Angeloni, a student at Sir Arthur Lewis Community College (SALCC) made light work of Aaron Gerald of the Castries Comprehensive Secondary School winning 6-1, 6-4.
Following his victory in the boys 18s final, Joey Angeloni said, “I thought it was very nice that coach Vernon Lewis set up this tournament as match play was needed”.
“It was a great confidence boost for everyone as we played at quite a high level. I was looking forward to this tournament as the TOGS tournament did not finish in January because of the Covid -19 pandemic. I found that the tournament ran very smoothly, and we all had great fun” he noted.
In terms of his play on court during the two-day event, Angeloni said,” Overall I find I played quite well; maybe on some occasions I could have played better. I was serving quite well and once I got into the point, I felt more comfortable. Although I was struggling to return serves especially against the left hander Arron Gerald”.
Speaking at a brief closing ceremony Vernon Lewis congratulated all the players for making the tournament dubbed ‘Top Six’ a tremendous success despite the no crowd attendance and protocols.
Lewis thanked the parents who continue to support their children and the sport of tennis in Saint Lucia. Special mention of Dr. Christine Parris who provided two gift vouchers from Taxi for the boys/girl’s champions.
He added, “I am elated how the tournament went from the get-go; the matches were of high quality. There was never a dull moment and there was a lot at stake as everybody fought their heart out”.
“The level of sportsmanship was so high. I have never witnessed this in a tournament in Saint Lucia. There was not one hiccup, no querying of calls, no controversy, and the quality was fantastic, the fitness level of the players was great, the concentration, the determination and the togetherness of the players was at an all-time high. I am really happy how it went”.
According to Lewis, He planned to have another tournament in July, the Summer Bash; followed by the Creole Bash in October and the Christmas Bash in December to close off the year. The three tournaments’ will be of a similar format where the top players play each other.
“We need tournaments where we have the cream of the crop playing against each other so they are faced with pressure right away which would enable them to produce their best plays. We must bring the interest and spectatorship back to tennis so if you have tournaments like that and the matches are top quality, right away people will show up, but with the Covid-19 situation I had to keep things in small numbers,” Lewis said.
In terms of sponsorship, Lewis said he did not get any.
“I did it on my own. In one case, I didn’t get a response and I also had to beg again, and the response was no. It was frustrating a little bit, but when I lay down on my bed, I realize I could do it on my own. So, my frustration went away, and I did it on my own, but before I knew it, the event ends up being successful,” he added.
According to Lewis the idea behind the tournament, came while he was at home.
“This thing just popped up in my head. I realized the young players can develop nostalgia from lack of competition and incentive and I could sense also that there was some nostalgia creeping in and lack of inspiration. I figured I had to do something to save the players,” Lewis said.
Scores at the event are as follows: Boys 18s Group A Round Robin Stage – Joey Angeloni defeated Matthew Paris 4-0, 5-4; Joey Angeloni defeated Nathan Elliott 4-2, 4-2.
Boys 18s Group B: Aaron Gerald defeated Jonas Sylvester 4-0, 4-1; Aaron Gerald defeated Peterson George 5-4, 4-0.
Boys 18s final: Joey Angeloni defeated Aaron Gerald 6-1, 6-4; Boys 3rd. Place Playoff – Nathan Elliott defeated Peterson George 6-4, 2-6, (10-8 in super tie breaker)
Girls 18s Group A Round Robin Stage – Iyana Paul defeated Amara Jn Marie 4-0, 4-1; Iyana Paul defeated Amia Jn Marie 4-0, 4-0.
Girls 18s Group B: Jorja Mederick defeated Latoya Murray 4-1, 4-0; Alysa Elliott defeated Latoya Murray 4-0,4-1; Alysa Elliott defeated Jorja Mederick 1-4,4-1 (4-2 in super tie breaker).
Girls 18s Final: Alysa Elliott defeated Iyana Paul 6-1, 6-4; Girls 3rd. Place Playoff
Jorja Mederick defeated Amara Jn Marie 6-1, 6-0.
Boys 18s Doubles Finals: Aaron Gerald/Peterson George defeated Joey Angeloni/ Nathan Elliott 4-2, 4-1.
Girls 18s Doubles Finals: Iyana Paul/Latoya Murray defeated Alysa Elliott/ Jorja Mederick 5-4, 1-4, (10-7 super tie breaker).
Boys Sportsmanship Awardees’ – Matthew Paris; Girls Sportswomanship – Amia Jn Marie.