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Tennis group donates funds to the BLTA

Funds derived from Grill ‘n Chill tennis tourney
  • The Friends of Tennis Committee makes a donation in support of the future development of tennis in the country. From left are Kenwood Kerr of the Friends of Tennis Committee; Mickey Williams, BLTA National Tennis Centre board of directors; Tommy Turnquest, Friends of Tennis chairman; Derron Donaldson, president of the BLTA and chairman of the BLTA’s National Tennis Centre; Kevin Major, Grill ’n Chill Doubles Tournament director and BLTA board member, and Stephen Thompson, Friends of Tennis committee member. BAHAMAS LAWN TENNIS ASSOCIATION

Guardian Sports Reporter

Published: Jun 13, 2013

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A group of retired tennis players have devised a game plan, one that allows them to play a couple of sets recreationally while giving back to the sport.

A donation, made by the Friends of Tommy Turnquest in memory of Lady Edith Turnquest, was made to the Bahamas Lawn Tennis Association (BLTA) yesterday to assist with its junior development and the upkeep of the BLTA’s National Tennis Centre. Former Cabinet Minister and Member of Parliament Tommy Turnquest, along with Ken Kerr, Mickey Williams, Kevin Major and Stephen Thompson, presented BLTA President Derron Donaldson with two checks equaling $5,000. The funds were collected from the 7th Annual Friends of Tommy Turnquest Tennis Grill ’n Chill Doubles Tournament, which was held late last year.

“We started the tournament about six years ago as a fundraiser. A group of us who come out to play tennis on a regular basis decided that it would be best to give back and make a meaningful contribution that will assist the sport,” said Turnquest. “At one session, we chatted and decided that we should put a tournament together. It started when I was actively involved in politics and hence the name ‘Friends of Tommy Turnquest’. We wanted to use the opportunity to raise some funds, but being out there, we saw that there was a real need for assistance toward the junior program.

“All of the funds that we raised, we wanted to invest back into the junior program. Three years ago, after my mother (Lady Turnquest) passed, we decided that we were going to host the tournament in her memory. She was a strong supporter of tennis and also a tennis player. Right up to the year before she died she played tennis. That was up until her late 70s. This year we were successful through the support of all those who patronized the event. We were able to donate $3,000 to the BLTA’s national junior program and $2,000 to the national tennis center. Obviously, you can’t have a program without having some place for them to play. We also wanted to assist the organization of the tennis center, which is separate from the BLTA. We thought that we would give 60 percent toward the junior program and 40 percent to the tennis center.”

The winners of the men’s doubles division were Phil Bowe and Virgil Johnson. Noella Smith and Shena Styles won the women’s division while Whitfield Neely and Joyce Cash took the mixed doubles division. More than 20 persons played in the one-day tournament. Players came from the various tennis programs, inclusive of those who practice at the Tom ‘The Bird’ Grant Park, the national tennis center and the Gym Tennis Club. According to Turnquest, a lot more effort is being made to include other players to increase the financial assistance given to the BLTA.

Turnquest said: “The tournament was in December. With everything else, it takes a while to collect the money and have an opportunity to present it. We do it every year. It is an annual event and a lot of work. I know a lot of persons who have tournaments who also try to assist. Our tournament, we only play doubles, that is why we call it a tennis grill ‘n chill. It is really just for fun. We give out trophies and a number of persons who don’t take part in every tournament come out and support this one. A large group of persons who play at the Tom ‘The Bird’ Grant Park came out. That is special to me because those courts were developed when I was minister of works in the mid-1990s. In fact, they were the winners of this tournament so that made it even more memorable.”

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