FOCOL 2010 Junior Tennis Tournament

The annual FOCOL tournament was held OCTOBER  22 – OCTOBER  25, 2010 results are as follows:

Age Category Finals Score
Girls Under  12 Lily Evert defeated Iesha Shepherd Bye
Girls Under 14 Iesha Shepherd defeated Dominique Mortier 6-2, 6-2
Girls Under 16 Erin Strachan defeatedDanielle Thompson 6-4, 6-1
Boys Under 10 Cole Majra defeatedDenali  nottage 6-2,6-1
Boys Under 12 Oneil Mortimer defeatedDanny  Wallace 3-6, 6-0, 6-0
Boys Under 14 Micheal  Wallace defeatedOneal  Mortimer 6-1, 6-0
Boys Under 16 Kevin Major defeated Rasheed  Carey 6-1,  6-3
Boys Under 18 Kevin Major defeated  Treajh  Ferguson Bye
Girls  18 Gabriella Bowe defeated  Danielle  Thompson Bye

The  Focol tournament took placed this past weekend at the Lucayan Bath & Raquet Club.

The Grand Bahama Tennis Association hosted about 35 junior tennis players from Nassau, Eleuthera and Grand Bahama to several days of healthy tennis rivalry.  This year’s players displayed a high level of competiveness and good sportsmanship as they vied for the first place trophies in the various age categories.

President of the Grand Bahama Tennis Association, Mrs. Charmine Wallace, dubbed this year’s tournament a huge success and extended sincere appreciation to   Focol, the players and their parents for contributing to such a successful tournament.

BLTA Engages in some CYA

Writes Kelsie Johnson, Sports Reporter for the Nassau Guardian in “Turnquest sticks behind decision to exclude players”:

The executive members in the Bahamas Lawn Tennis Association (BLTA) will not re-think their position on the selection of players for the upcoming Fed Cup Tournament. In fact, president Stephen Turnquest believes that he and the board members did what was right, when they made their decision in January.

The Fed Cup team, which is preparing for competition April 19 at the National Tennis Club in Guayaquil, Ecuador, includes Kerrie Cartwright, Simone Pratt and Gabrielle Moxey. The team is being coached by Paula Whitfield. The board members decided to exclude two of the country’s top players, Larikah Russell and Nikkita Fountain, after they failed to compete in the December Invitational – a criteria for team selection.

President Turnquest believes that the process was a clear, just and fair one, and that the selection guidelines were followed. He said: “I can’t comment on what is written in the story. The only thing that I can comment on, or say to the situation is (that) the selection process has been in place for many years. We have an end-of-year tournament and the top players are invited to participate. In Larikah’s case, in 2008 she did not participate, but she was still selected to go in 2009. In 2008, she had a death in her family which happened several weeks before the trials, but they still allowed her to play (in the Fed Cup).

“Last year, she didn’t show. She sent her report in as well and gave reasons why she could not attend. The executive as a body, a unit, decided that well she did not show up so the selection was made without her. In Nikkita’s case, she called to say that she was coming. She was in the draw to participate, she did not show. She called and said that she was stuck in Miami, no problem. Then the day came, she did not show and said that she was going to be a little late. Afterwards, the tournament director got a letter stating that she (Nikkita) did not show up because she was ill. Two months later, we got a doctor’s certificate saying that she was ill in December.

“Now, there is no question about if they are the top players in the country. That is not the issue. The issue is this – if you do not follow the guidelines of the association then this will be the end result. The guidelines aren’t made by Stephen Turnquest. This was made by the board and the directors. All the boys showed up (to the December Invitational), no problem, and the selection for the Davis Cup team was made – no problem at all.”

In an earlier interview with The Nassau Guardian, both Russell and Fountain demanded answers from the BLTA as to why they were not selected. The two confirmed that they gave reasons as to why they were unable to compete. If these reasons were accepted then, said Russell and Fountain, “why aren’t their names included for the 2010 team.”

However, Turnquest had a few questions of his own for Russell and Fountain. Turnquest asked would it be right to include them (Russell and Fountain) just because they are regarded as the two top players?

“You can’t unilaterally say that okay, I am the best and I can do this and do the next thing,” said Turnquest. “It doesn’t work like that. Too many times you have persons believing that it will work, but you take a stand and do what you believe. Stephen did not do it – it was done collectively by the board. The process was there to go and start the competition at the end of the year. This is not the first time this has happened. This was in place before I became president. There is no challenge to it and there were no problems with it in the previous years, none whatsoever.

“Now, they are saying I am not going to show up, they are going to name me. It is not about us trying to take them out with no reason or cause. It isn’t that at all. I was told that I should do what is honorable. Fine, I am going to do that. I am going to stay the cause, because you can’t say that this is the rule and you (will) follow this rule and (then) change it. No you can’t do that because it won’t be fair, as those other players went about and did the sacrifices as well, they came.”

Turnquest also pointed out that both Russell and Fountain are on subvention, and that the two tennis players are aware of what is required of them. The two have represented The Bahamas at the Fed Cup Tournament in the past. They were members of the team which was recently demoted to Americas Zone II, after losing all three ties in 2009. The losses came to Puerto Rico, 1-2, Canada, and to Colombia, 0-3.

Former BLTA President Disagrees with Present BLTA Clique

From an op-ed in the Bahamas Journal dated March 17th, 2010 “Former BLTA President Backs Russell and Fountain”:

Former Bahamas Lawn Tennis Association President and Fed Cup team captain Giorgio Baldacci has put his support behind a protest against the BLTA after the federation left top female players Nikkita Fountain and Grand Bahamian Larikah Russell off the National Team that will compete at the Fed Cup Championships.

Former Bahamas Lawn Tennis Association President and Fed Cup team captain Giorgio Baldacci has put his support behind a protest against the BLTA after the federation left top female players Nikkita Fountain and Grand Bahamian Larikah Russell off the National Team that will compete at the Fed Cup Championships.

Although not publicly The BLTA has listed the team of Kerrie Cartwright, Grand Bahamian Simone Pratt for the American Group Two tie that is scheduled to be played in April in Ecuador.

On Saturday during a press conference Baldacci described the situation as a “slap in the face” of the two players. 

Baldacci explained that that unlike this time, in the past the captain and not the board would name the team before beginning the two weeks training program before traveling to the competition.

In 2009 the team of Russell, Fountain and Cartwright, captained by Sean Cartwright, lost all three ties in the Americans Group One and was demoted to Group Two for 2010.

With Baldacci as the captain in 2002, the Bahamas turned in its best performance in the Fed Cup since it started playing in 1990. The team of Fountain, Russell and Shari Dillet, also of Grand Bahama, finished with a 2-1 record to remain in Group One after being promoted in 2001.

In 2003, however, the team of Fountain, Jessica Sweeting and Keva Palmer, dropped its two matches and were demoted to Group Two. Following 2003 The Bahamas did not play the next four years as some of the top players were unavailable.

The Bahamas returned to Fed Cup play in 2008 as Sean Cartwright captained the team of Fountain, Cartwright, Russell and Elanqua Griffin to a 3-0 record in Group Two and the Bahamas was promoted back to Group One.

Fountain, who has a 19-23 win-loss record, including 10-14 in singles has the second longest tenure in Fed Cup play with seven years experience behind Kim Cartwright who has nine. Russell is the best individual player with a 23-9 total wins, including a 12-5 record in singles and 11-4 in doubles.

They said what was so disturbing is the BLTA didn’t notify them that they were not on the team. They found out through the federation’s web site.

According to Fountain and Russell the BLTA has selected a team of three junior players who don’t have the experience that is needed to play at the highest level in team competition.

Reportedly BLTA president Steve Turnquest said the committee decided to keep Fountain and Russell off the team because neither of them participated in the December Christmas Invitational at the National Tennis Center, which served as one of the criteria for selection.

However, [F]ountain said she provided the federation with a doctor’s certificate, which was allowed provided for in the criteria preventing her from being penalized. While Russell says she was told she would not be penalized for missing the tournament, but they apparently have been penalized.

The Christmas Invitational was first advertised as the official trials for up coming national teams, but later promoted as only as a tournament where players could have gained points towards their rankings.

Top Bahamian Tennis Players “Dissed” By Present BLTA Clique

Writes Kelsie Johnson Sports Reporter at the Nassau Guardian in “Top players searching for answers” (Tuesday March 16, 2010):

Two of the country’s top female tennis players, Larikah Russell and Nikkita Fountain, are demanding answers from the Bahamas Lawn Tennis Association (BLTA) executive members as to why they were cut from the Fed Cup team.

According to Russell and Fountain, legitimate reasons were given to the BLTA executive board as to why they were unable to compete in the 2009 December Invitational, which is said to be a criteria for selection. If these reasons were accepted then, said Russell and Fountain, “why aren’t their names included for the 2010 team.”

Team members listed on the association’s website were Kerrie Cartwright, Simone Pratt and Gabrielle Moxey. The team is being coached by Paula Whitfield.

Fountain said: “I feel as if it is a slap in the face not even notifying us or communicating to us that we were not chosen for the team. We had to find that out on their online posting, saying who was on the team that was selected. I myself have represented The Bahamas from the age of 11-12 and I was number one in the Central American and Caribbean juniors and we have made history as far as Fed Cup is concerned. We’ve been to Zone I, which ‘Rikah (Larikah Russell) and I were a part of. We’ve done it time and time again. We’ve had problems getting over that hump to go past Zone I, but we’ve continued to get into Zone I.

“Now they are changing the team and sending three juniors who have no experience in that type of competition and even at that level. Even if they are saying that the invitational was a criteria, I was sick and turned in a doctor’s note. With the criteria, as along as you turn in a doctor’s note you would not be penalized. They said to Larikah in person that she would not be penalized, but yet we are still being penalized. We are confident that this is a mistake and that they would solve this problem before they send this team. We don’t want to be embarrassed and sent down to another zone after all the work Larikah and I have put in. We just think that we deserve a little more respect than they are giving us.”

The round-robin tournament for the Fed Cup will be contested on April 19 at the National Tennis Club in Guayaquil, Ecuador. The two pools will be divided by 12 nations inclusive of The Bahamas, Bermuda, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Peru and Trinidad and Tobago.

After working hard to be promoted to Zone I of the Americas region, The Bahamas was demoted to Americas Zone II after losing all three ties in 2009. The losses came to Puerto Rico, 1-2, Canada, and to Colombia, 0-3.

Russell has an overall record of 23-9 in Fed Cup play. She has accumulated a win/loss record of 12-5 in singles and 11-4 in doubles. According to the team’s biography on the Fed Cup website, Russell and Fountain are the best doubles team with a record of 9-4. The most ties was played by Kim Cartwright.

The Nassau Guardian’s attempt to contact BLTA President Steven Turnquest was unsuccessful.