Monday, July 13, 2009

Congratulations, Mark!

And congratulations, Anna-Lena, too! A Bahamian-German duo won this year's mixed doubles event at Wimbledon, the world's most prestigious tennis tournament. While doubles, generally speaking, do not attract as much attention as singles tennis (why that is, is beyond me), I have compiled a few news clippings for you to browse on this accomplishment of our fellow Bahamian, Mark Knowles: Associated Press, BBC, Bahama Islands Info, and an interview with Mark Knowles and Anna-Lena Groenefeld after the match can be found on the official Wimbledon website.

The triumph at Wimbledon means that Mark Knowles has now won every Grand Slam tournament on the professional tour (Australia 2002, US 2004, France 2007, Wimbledon 2009), and comes several years after a major Nassau daily (it wasn't the Guardian) has called him as "has been." Do they know the recipe for humble pie down on Shirley Street?

Mark Knowles, however, is not only a great athlete who puts the Bahamas on the map in the tennis world, Mark Knowles is also a model citizen. Every year in December, when the professional tennis tour takes a break, Mark Knowles brings a dozen or so of his friends from the tour to Nassau to play in a charitable, "for fun" tournament, which sadly receives very little attention and support from the general Bahamian public. Nonetheless, Mark Knowles raises considerable funds for a variety of local charities this way, and offers us the opportunity to see professional tennis live, instead of on TV only.

Mark Knowles' Wimbledon triumph came a week before our Independence weekend, which saw a Davis Cup tie played in Nassau between the Bahamas and Guatemala. It is sad to see that the Bahamas Lawn Tennis Association (BLTA) clearly still treats our country's best current tennis player in a fashion that made him cite prior responsibilities as an excuse not to play for his country. I do not claim to know what happened this time around, but just to give you one example: several years ago - Davis Cup-wise we were ranked very low indeed - the BLTA would insist that Mark Knowles, then ranked #1 in the world, skip a major tournament to come home and try out for the team... Maybe the BLTA wasn't following international tennis and had just read in the local paper that he's a "has been"? Anyway, this past weekend, the Bahamas lost the Davis Cup tie against Guatemala 2-3; the doubles event was a close call, we lost in five sets. Having a Wimbledon champion may very well have made all the difference in the world. This was, we will play in Zone III next year.

No comments:

Post a Comment