Saint Lucia
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Sagicor Junior Intl. Tennis Tourney Starts 6 August

SAINT Lucia is set to host its annual Sagicor Junior International Tennis Tournament from August 6 to 10 at the Beausejour Tennis Facility, and plans are well underway for staging what is anticipated to be another exciting event.

L-R Sherlon Leon Sagicor Sales Manager, Ahil Cyril Under-12 champion, Jim Xavier Director of Sports and Dr Stephen Mc. Namara SLTA Presidemt.
L-R Sherlon Leon Sagicor Sales Manager, Ahil Cyril Under-12 champion, Jim Xavier Director of Sports and Dr Stephen Mc. Namara SLTA Presidemt.

Major sponsors – Sagicor Life (Eastern Caribbean) Inc. stepped in ‘big-time’ to fill the void left by the former long-standing sponsors of 34 years, Coca Cola, to continue the legacy of allowing young players to access quality tennis competitions.

Now into its fourth year of corporate sponsorship, the company remains committed to task. Sherlon Leon, Sales Manager at Sagicor Life said they were excited by this partnership, which aims to bring championship grade play to the youngsters

He added that Sagicor relishes the opportunity to get involved in development within the communities across the region and so, it was a ‘no brainer’ for the company to provide support for this unique junior international tennis classic tournament that has blossomed over the years.    

“Each year it gives us great pleasure to collaborate with our associates at the St Lucia Tennis Association [SLTA], working to bring this great opportunity to the young tennis players of Saint Lucia, the Caribbean, and the other countries that will be represented in just a couple of weeks,” Leon told the gathering at Thursday’s media briefing.

He underlined the support provided by Sagicor “a 182-year-old company born in the Caribbean, but now operating across the Americas”, adding that the company’s vison is, “To be a great company committed to improving the lives of the people in the communities in which we operate”.

Leon added, “The tournament clearly supports and reinforces our commitment to the development of the Caribbean region, particularly in our corporate social responsibility (that entails) pillars of youth development and sport. 

“These two areas are ones which we hold near and dear to our hearts as we recognize that the future of our region lies in our young people – they are our greatest resource.”

SLTA President Dr. Stephen McNamara noted that the association has made concerted efforts to allow young players to attend tournaments throughout the region, in order for them to gain greater exposure to the sport.

 “So, we continue to ensure they get this exposure and we continue to host this (current) tournament, so they can be exposed to regional and extra-regional players, here, in their own back yard,” said Mc. Namara. He informed that the ITF Under-18 Tournament is also due to be held, next month. 

Registration for the Sagicor Junior International Tennis Tournament is set for August 4.  Mc. Namara appealed to the public to turn out and support the young athletes as they seek to give good representation for their country. 

Mc. Namara acknowledged Sagicor’s “unfaltering support” for this tournament, to replace the former ‘Coca Cola Tournament’. To the new sponsors, he declared: “We cannot express too greatly our appreciation of them, for stepping in when they were needed to do this.”

More than 80 athletes are expected to participate, with competitors in the different categories; Under-14 with 48 entrants, Under-12 with 24 entrants, with more athletes to follow.

The SLTA president noted that the tournament must be run properly and up to standard to maintain its international rankings and “its Grade I status”. 

In an unconventional move, young athlete Ahil Cyril, 2022 Under-12 Champion in the Sagicor Junior International Tennis Tournament took the spotlight to provide an inspiring and motivational feature speech to the gathering, which included his peers, teammates, family, friends and officials.

He spoke about his love and passion for the game and pointed out the importance of gaining an education, and as well, commended the sponsors for supporting youth development in the communities. 

Noting the significance of networking with other players and gaining wider exposure to the game, Ahil declared: “Participating in regional tournaments is compulsory, so we can attain international representation for Saint Lucia. And yes, it may seem difficult and costly, but we know we are covered and will be catered for by our government and private partners like Sagicor.”

He added, the tournament “not only motivates us juniors, but it builds the hype in the sport aiming us athletes. We are all excited and look forward to representing Saint Lucia at this event.”

With a moving testimonial, Ahil asserted: “Tennis is a sport for Life, it has taught me to be independent, responsible and resilient and has helped me to build confidence in myself.”

Director of Sports, Jim Xavier said the sports ministry is focused on channeling efforts to develop sports in the communities and the department endorses the event.

He said, like in previous years, whereby the ministry in collaboration with the National Lotteries Authority (NLA) have supported the sport, they “will continue to support the Tennis Association and Sagicor …and we thank Sagicor for coming aboard and for sustaining this tournament.”