On a much warmer island, senior editor Ben Rothenberg was flying the flag for Racquet at the Antigua & Barbuda Cup, one of the Caribbean Cup Tennis Series events that promote tennis development around the region. After an exhibition match between 2003 Wimbledon finalist Mark Philippoussis and Jody Maginley, a player on Antigua & Barbuda’s newly revived Davis Cup team, there was an ITF junior tournament that brought together the brightest talents from the island and the Caribbean, as well as a few others from the Americas and Europe.
Though many of the players were still at a more developmental stage, there were connections to the top ranks of tennis visible for those looking: The top seed in the boys’ draw was Toby Alex Kodat, the half brother of former WTA top-10er Nicole Vaidisova.
The challenges of developing a tennis player in the Caribbean are clear, notably the need to travel on a plane between nearly any tournaments. But there’s also incredible opportunity, with great weather year-round, a decent amount of tennis facilities, and a culture that understands the sport and its heritage.