The Second Annual Bjorn Munroe Grand Bahama International Tennis Championship is expected to be bigger and better this time around.
The summertime tennis tournament is slated to begin June 7-10 and be hosted at the YMCA.
As namesake of the tournament, Munroe announced this past Thursday, March 7, that the tournament will introduce a Universal Tennis Rating system (UTR).
“We think it’s important for the juniors in Grand Bahama and The Bahamas in general to start having a UTR ranking. The UTR has a player data base and all college coaches look at UTRs. You cannot get into college without having a UTR .
“Many times I’m asked how does it start? How do I get into college. This is where it starts. It’s all about getting exposure for The Bahamas in general.”
Munroe described last year’s success as a “founding year.” While the tournament did not draw a large number of players, he indicated that those who competed made the event exciting. With the addition the UTR Munroe is hopeful that this format will help bring more players to the island.
“This year is a bit different. The UTR goes world-wide. Coaches and parents don’t know if the players are number one, two, three or even 10 in The Bahamas. When you have a UTR coaches identify you right away and know how to target you.
“I have about five players that went through the UTR program in colleges from divisions one-three right now. I want to develop juniors on the island. Growing up, me and my brother didn’t have these kinds of tournaments to compete in. My parents sacrificed to get us over to the U.S for the exposure.
“But bringing tournaments like this to the island you don’t have to go over as much because it’s coming right to your back yard.”
The tournament will feature the following age divisions: 12 and Under, 14 and Under, 16 and Under and Open.
The players will also have added incentive to put the best performance possible in the tournament. Last summer Munroe invited a few of the top players from last year’s tournament to West Palm Beach for training sessions. He disclosed that will continue following this tournament.
“From this tournament I started to help and work with kids like Abigail Simms, Kofi Bowes, Ky Rees and Michael Reckley. We did a couple of stints, worked on a few things and now we have a relationship.
“I hope to build more relationships with some of the players here on the island.”
The Ministry of Tourism stands to play a big part in supporting the tournament. Munroe is expected to have approximately 12 of his athletes whom he trains in West Palm Beach enter the tournament. Manager for Niche Markets Nuvolari Chotoosingh stated that this brand of a tournament continues to push the mandate of attracting tourists to the island.
“The MOT is certainly pleased to partner once again with Bjorn Munroe, The Bahamas’ legendary tennis player now stationed in West Palm Beach following his legendary career at Ohio State University.
“Once again he’s bringing a number of kids out of the United States who he coaches to play against youngsters here on the island. Of course, the Ministry always looks forward to having visitors come to our shores. We’d like to ask the public to come out and support this event. The Bahamas Lawn Tennis Association and the Grand Bahama Tennis Association are all working along with us and BJ to make this happen.”
Stevette Culmer who represented the YMCA’s Administration Office voiced that the Y looks forward to continuing to help Munroe host the annual tournament.
“Last year despite the small tournament, the level of play and organization was commendable. We’re very excited about this year’s tournament and believe it will be the tournament needed in exposing our kids,” she stated.