Road Tennis Takes Off In Brooklyn

The Caribbean Is One Nation.

By Michael Headley
Saturday , August 29 , 2015 was an historic day in Brooklyn New York as Barbados'Creamof the Crop  Pro Road Tennis tournament finals were played at Parkside Playground, between Rogers and Bedford Avenue .     This was the first time that the finals were ever played outside of Barbados and they were covered by Caribvision.  Preceding the finals, the spectators were treated to exhibition game s and mixed doubles.   Mark, Venom Griffith and Dario Hinds competed in the finals .  Venom won the three best in five series, winning three games outright and he received the coveted cash price .  This was presented by Mr. Dale Clarke, President of Barbados Pro Road (PRTA) Tennis association and Dr, Mathiew Eugene , a Haitian-born, New York City Council man , who represents the 40th district.  Mr.  Eugene, is the founder of the Youth Education and Sports, (YES) community group.  He participated in the closing ceremony which was conducted by Mr. Sam Clarke. In his opening remarks, Mr. Clarke highlighted the contribution of Mr. Gregory Hinds a.k.a. Silver Fox, towards the advancement of the sport in Brooklyn.
N egotiations , to have the final s  played in  Brooklyn started in April.  And t his was a dream come true for Mr.  Hinds and others , who had been laboring tirelessly and assiduously,  since 2006, to get this indigenous Bajan sport on the proverbial map in Brooklyn USA.   Mr. Hinds was elated when Sam Clarke contacted him to assist with finalizing the event.   
For many years, even before a Barbados finals game, being played in Brooklyn, was ever envisioned, guys and some gals, who loved the game, played wherever they could to compete and get exercise. Then one day, as fate would have it, an Eric Jordan had told Mr. Hinds that someone had painted  a Road tennis court in Brooklyn's Lincoln Terrace park, located on East New York Avenue between Buffalo and Rochester.    Upon inquiry Mr. Hinds found out that the court was constructed  under the instructions of Neal Harmon, another Bajan tennis enthusiast, who was also a Parks Manager.  Along with his counterparts, Mr, Hinds made nets and racquets so that they could play games at Lincoln Terrace before winter came.  Some players even got their racquets sent in from Barbados.   Annually, Barbados’ former number one seed and 1998 Banks champion, Jeffrey Best (Barah) would make guest appearances, to the court, to have a knock with fellow Banks Champion Mark Cox and others.    Courts were also drawn at East 55th Street and parts of Queens, New Yor k, where the games often attracted curious onlookers. The courts were in compliance with the standard measurements set by the Barbados Road Tennis Association. 
Mr. Hinds had made a relentless commitment to have this sport exposed to all New Yorkers and with an unrivaled tenacity, in 2011, he, Rudolph Brathwaite and David Isaac got the sport officially registered, in New York, as a Not-for-profit entity, under the aegis of   The American Skin Ball Tennis Association. These are examples of the unsung heroes who have worked outside of Barbados to see the fruition of their indigenous sport recognized, with the resultant Cream of the Crop finals playing here in Brooklyn.  For the last four years, Mr. Hinds has organized a Road tennis clinic, on Saturdays and Sundays, between 11am and 2pm for all interested parties. And Road tennis is now part of the Parks data.  Mr. Hinds ultimate goal is to introduce it into the schools.  It has the potential to be  part of Barbados’ sports tourism product. 
Mr. Hinds, kudos to you and your team for showing  your pride and industry in advancing the sport of Road Tennis in Brooklyn, USA. Let’s hope that the authorities recognize your contribution when Barbados’ 50 years of Independence is celebrated in 2016 .

Michael Headley is a social commentator.
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