By Brent Stubbs
Senior Sports Reporter
DESPITE the controversy that dampened the integrity of the Giorgio Baldacci National Open Tournament, Bahamas Lawn Tennis Association president Darnette Weir was pleased that they got it completed.
The week-long tournament came to a close on Saturday at the National Tennis Centre with rising junior players Donte Armbrister winning the men’s title over touring pro Justin Lunn and Sydney Clarke securing the ladies’ crown over collegian Sierra Donaldson.
During the presentation ceremony, the BLTA selected Shannon Francis and Perjae Major as the winners of the Giorgio Baldacci male and female sportsmanship awards.
Weir, who came under the attack by some of the players as they took a stance and decided not to play the opening day of the main draw on Wednesday over a dispute in the seeding of the players, said notwithstanding what transpired, the tournament was a success.
The BLTA, however, is left with a dark cloud hanging over its head as the tournament served as a qualifier for the Davis and Fed Cup teams for 2019.
As a result of the dispute, top male players Philip Major Jr, Kevin Major Jr, brothers Baker and Spencer Newman, Kerrie Cartwright and Danielle Thompson didn’t compete in the main draw.
“The board would meet and see how best we can come up with a team for Davis Cup and Fed Cup teams next year,” said Weir about the tournament,.which served as the team trials.
“Going forward, we might have to have an invitational or another trials to select the Davis Cup and the Fed Cup teams. We will have to do what is best in the interest of the association and the best interest for the country and all stakeholders, who are the players.”
During a meeting that was held last Wednesday to deal with the dispute and subsequently amend the draw, Weir said she heard the concerns from the players and assured them the BLTA will make an improvement in the tournament and the selection of the teams. “We will make an official statement on the team selection after the yuletide season,” she said.
“We want everybody to enjoy the season because the true meaning is celebrating Jesus’ birth.
“And so we want to take that time to do just that and then we will come back with a resolution.”
Weir said the BLTA has the right to hold another trial if they so desire before the team is selected.
So she said there is the possibility that they would go that route.
But that is a decision that has to be made by the board. In the meantime, Weir said they don’t want to take anything away from the celebrations by Armbrister and Clarke as the new male and female champions.
“It’s a great accomplishment and it teaches all the players not to discount anybody,” Weir said.
“You don’t know what the player would have been doing since you last played that player.
“Everybody is training and trying to do their best, so it’s rewarding that we have two upcoming juniors and basically we had good quality matches, despite the fact that we didn’t have our top players.”
On a personal note, Weir said she will also bask in the success of her son, Donte, the new men’s champion. “It’s rewarding after the match is finished and the handshake is done,” said Weir.
She noted that it’s not as nerve wrecking now when she’s watching her play as to when he was a year or two ago.
She noted that she’s matured to handle his success or failure. She added that in this year’s tournament, she has had to endure a lot of ridicule and criticism over his participation, but she didn’t allow it to get to her.