By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
“What I have for this sport is the passion—the passion and the energy—and the love I bring to this sport is unlimited,” said Carol Mitchell after becoming this first woman in the BVI Lawn Tennis Association history to head the organization, adding that being elected to lead the sport is surreal. “It’s something I dreamed about and now it’s a reality, I’m going to give it 110%. Sport does so much for youth. It brings discipline, it keep them active and it gives them a whole different outlook on life. Once a child is active, it helps in their education and they can study better—it goes hand in hand. Education is the most important thing, but sports plays a part in it.”
Mitchell, who succeeded Dion Anslem in the post, has young players from Willard Wheatley, Francis Lettsome, St. Georges, Cedar International and Althea Scatliffe Primary Schools and the Elmore Stoutt High School in the Long Look East End Tennis Club program that started in 2010, said she’d like to see the sport eventually a part of the physical education curriculum.
“My main goal is for more kids to play Tennis. But the most important thing is facilities,” she said, noting they don’t have enough facilities currently and no public courts. “On Tortola, yes, is the place where more of the kids play Tennis, but I’m looking at Virgin Gorda too. Virgin Gorda currently doesn’t have any public courts and there are three young players over there who are playing very good Tennis—Hash Banthia, Jeremy Williams and Anghel George. Currently, Hash is at a stage where his level is higher and he needs more exposure.” Mitchell said she’d like to see a National Tennis Center developed which is badly needed. “It doesn’t have to be on Tortola,” she said. “We can look at Virgin Gorda or Anegada.”
Among her first year plans are developing a competition calendar, outlining the number of tournaments annually, the development of a national team, implementing a Jr. ranking system, something she said is needed in helping with the level of each player and it gives each person an incentive and the program a chance to grow. “It’s long overdue,’ she said.
While the group of players she works with are 13 and Under at the moment, she foresees them getting into International Tennis Federation rankings after turning 14 and playing in regional tournaments. The development of Tennis at the senior level is a way off because of facilities she said. “When I say facilities in terms of public facilities, there’s a private club, the Tortola Sports Club. I’m looking forward to working with them to help promote the development of Tennis, but right now, our focus is on the 10 an under,” Mitchell pointed out. “The reason for this is because we have a five year plan. Once that child reaches 14 where they are considered to be high performance or advanced player, it shows growth. So 10 and under is our focus for our development and the courts we have in Long Look is suitable for that.”
The plan she said is for all the U10 players to become members of the Tortola Sports Club so that they can do advanced training there.
Mitchell thanked the previous association for the work they have done and promised to run a transparent organization.