Coleridge Place said the start of the Bermuda Lawn Tennis Association’s 14th Inter-School Tournament yesterday gave him ‘goose bumps’.
The president of the BLTA cut a proud figure as hundreds of primary school students descended on the W.E.R. Joell Tennis Stadium.
The tournament, which is sponsored by ACE, today also features youngsters from middle and high schools.
Place told the Bermuda Sun: “This is definitely the starting point for them.
“It just seems like yesterday that people like Gavin Manders, currently our number one, was in this programme.
“It’s brilliant to see how it has grown — I believe there are now 5,000 kids playing tennis throughout the island.”
Yesterday’s event was also attended by the Minister of Community, Culture and Sports Wayne Scott, BLTA vice president David Lambert and ACE Bermuda vice president David Jenkins.
The primary schools that got the tournament up and running were: West End, Port Royal, Saltus Grammar School, West Pembroke, Elliott, BHS, Victor Scott, Somersfield Academy, Northlands, Somerset Primary, and St. George’s Preparatory.
“I love this,” said Place, who thanked the primary school teachers for their support of the tournament and the BLTA’s programme.
“When I was younger, I had a bike accident and broke both my arms and wasn’t able to play.
“I came back and won at every level so to see this, this is the highlight of my career. There’s lots of potential, lots of opportunity — it’s just given me goose bumps.”
Minister Scott added in a press release: “Congratulations to the Bermuda Lawn Tennis Association and their title sponsor ACE for supporting tennis instruction in Bermuda’s primary, middle and high schools.
“This tournament provides our school students with an opportunity to sharpen their tennis skills while enjoying healthy interschool competition.
“We have excellent tennis facilities in Bermuda. I am pleased to see so many students taking up the sport and utilizing the facilities here at W.E.R. Joell Tennis Stadium.”
The winners of the various divisions in the tournament will get the chance to continue their development in the BLTA programme.
Mr Jenkins said: “ACE is proud and delighted to sponsor such a rewarding programme.
“During the past 14 years the school’s tennis programme has seen over 5,000 children island-wide benefit from the programme.
“We commend the BLTA, president Coleridge Place, vice president David Lambert, school coordinators Brent Smith, Jacklyn Lambert, Romar Douglas, and the many tennis coaches and PE teachers for their dedication to the programme.
“They are all instrumental in the development of Bermuda’s future tennis stars.”