The old adage - 'to whom much is given, much is expected' is still applicable today, and maybe it would be forever.
Shenelle Mohammed, a former national tennis ace, is seeking to reinforce this by calling for more to be done if the country wants better performances and more achievements at international tournaments.
Mohammed is a three-time national tennis champion who has won the Tranquillity Open Tennis tournament at least five times. But as she enters the fray of coaching, Mohammed has highlighted the reasons why the current COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with the reluctance by the government to open public facilities for use by players, have put T&T tennis and its players at a disadvantage to their international counterparts.
" Since the inception of COVID-19, the national Tennis Programme has been on halt due to the inaccessible training facilities, putting us behind the other countries. There has been little to no investment in sport in our country, much less in tennis, to the point where players have to pay their own airfare to travel with the national team," Mohammed said.
He added: " We are in a difficult state as a result of the pandemic. Nevertheless, we are relentless and hope to push through this difficult season. This is because we have athletes who want to succeed and are diligent to put in the work. They are however at a disadvantage and it must be noted that we cannot expect as a nation to produce international players at Olympic and grand slam levels if we only want to give novice contributions.
We are always so happy to support our teams at the international level but we do not want to support them on the ground level. We are hoping this can change."
Mohammed is currently into the semifinals of the Chetwynd End of Year Tennis Tournament after defeating champion Farrah Chautilal at the weekend, having travelled from her hometown of Point Fortin to Tunapuna to be involved in her favourite sport.
That long journey added to her reasons for the country's setbacks in the sport, with players having to travel long distances to be involved in the action, while it's the total opposite in countries abroad: " COVID-19 has had a devastating and destabilising impact on Tennis in T&T, regressing the performance of our athletes. Promising juniors marked for the next level were stunted because of closed training facilities."
" No local competitions, limited access to equipment and reduced coaching time. On the other hand, the play has continued in the other nations, which notes tennis as a non-contact sport and the fact that staying outdoors and exercising has proven healthier and a safer way of remaining COVID-19 free."
"Our very own National Racquet Center is closed, whereby alternative locations could have been utilized to house COVID-19 patients.
The Public Courts in Port of Spain remain closed which is another main location for tennis in T&T, mainly private clubs have been open for play which limits access to most players. Just recently our under-12 team travelled to the Dominican Republic and the team had to juggle between three different locations for national training within two weekends before the prestigious events because there was no location for the team to train."