The Bermuda Tennis Association’s national top spot is up for grabs as the MTM Open Championships return to the Fairmont Southampton on Tuesday.
The five-day tournament, which will be hosted by the island’s No 1 professional Gavin Manders, founder of Manders Tennis Management, will include a seeded Open A Division, as well as an Open B Division for anyone wanting to compete, with men and women facing each other in both divisions, adding extra intrigue.
Manders, who has been Bermuda’s top player for the past decade is well aware of the added pressure of the prospect of losing his coveted top spot in the rankings but is adamant the rule change adds a welcome incentive for the tournament.
“Because of a change in the ranking system by the Bermuda Tennis Association, who ever wins this tournament will be No 1 player in Bermuda,” said Manders.
“The existing rankings will dictate the seedings for the Open A Division at the tournament but wherever you place will be your new ranking.
“It puts added pressure on everyone, including myself, but that is the same as any other year. I will do my best and just try to solidify my spot at the top.
“It is the start of the year and a great incentive for anyone to get involved and get a high ranking, I think it’s brilliant for the tournament.
“It is also great to be able to add an Open B Division which will allow anyone to get involved from high-level juniors to all adult players.”
It is the second successive year that the sexes will do battle on the court following the success of last year’s inaugural MTM Open Championships in which tournament director Manders won the Open Singles title by beating Jovan Whitter 7-6, 6-2 in the final.
Whitter, who will be playing the role of tournament referee, is hopeful that the inclusion of mixing the sexes once again will help breathe fresh life into the women’s game, which has enjoyed a resurgence in recent years.
“The women need the opportunity to play more matches, and more competitive matches. We believe this will motivate them to get out and play more,” said Whitter.
“The bottom line is that we are trying to find creative ways to grow tennis on the island again and so having men and women playing each other is a way of doing that.
“It is all about giving the female players the same opportunities as the men and helping the level of the sport as a whole. The women’s game has been growing again, which is encouraging, and so it is about helping to continue that growth.
“The two sexes playing one another is something we’ve seen with the famous battle of the sexes in the 1970s and more recently with Serena Williams and Roger Federer playing each other in the Hopman Cup.
“There is also the Universal Tennis Rating which doesn’t separate the sexes but instead looks solely at ranking and skill level. We want to go down the same route and show just where players really are in terms of pure ability.
“It is something a little different and a direction we are looking to go in.”
Entry for the event closes at 12pm on Monday. For further information please contact Gavin Manders at firstname.lastname@example.org