Manders Aiming For Medals In Final Island Games

July 3, 2023 | 0 Comments

Gavin Manders Tennis July 2023

[Written by Stephen Wright]

Tennis captain Gavin Manders, Bermuda’s most successful Island Games athlete, has revealed Guernsey will be his final Games.

Manders, who will fittingly carry the island’s flag at the opening ceremony along St Peter Port seafront on Saturday [July 8], has won 12 medals since his Island Games debut in Rhodes, Greece, in 2007.

The 37-year-old insists he is determined to add to his impressive medal haul and hopes to finish on the podium in all three of his events – team, doubles and mixed doubles.

With the Island Games not included in the programme of events for the Orkney Games in two years, Manders believes it is the right time to bow out.

“I’ve been chipping away at the Island Games for a while now.” Manders told Bernews. “It’s one of my favourite competitions.

“I’ve decided it’s time for me to retire from this competition and take on the role as non-playing captain when tennis is reintroduced [in Anglesey in 2027].

“I’ll be looking for three medals – hopefully, the [tennis] team can return home with a lot more than that.”

Manders, who, along with David Thomas, took over managing the Island Games tennis team from the Bermuda Lawn Tennis Association after the Rhodes Games in 2007, said serving as the island’s flag bearer will be one of his proudest sporting moments.

“Carrying the Bermuda flag will be an honour and something I’ll cherish for the rest of my life,” said Manders, who will continue playing Davis Cup for Bermuda next year.

“It will be one of my proudest moments, and my two boys, who are five and seven, will be there to see it.”

During an Island Games career spanning 16 years, Manders has travelled to Rhodes, Aland, Isle of Wight, Jersey, Gotland and Gibraltar, winning five team medals [one gold, one silver and three bronze], three singles medals [one silver and two bronze] and four doubles medals [one gold, two silver and one bronze].

“I have friends from all over the world now,” Manders said. “I would have never otherwise had the opportunity to travel to these places had it not been for the Island Games.

“It’s altered my perspective, and it’s been great to experience different cultures and see how people live.”

Manders heads to Guernsey in fine form, having helped Bermuda retain its Davis Cup Americas group three status for the first time and achieve its highest finish of fifth at the tournament in Paraguay last month.

“I’m the strongest mentally I’ve ever been, and my game is still at a high level,” said Manders, who will play doubles with James Finnegan and mixed doubles, for the first time at the Games, with Shelby Madeiros.

“I can offer a lot of leadership as the captain, a role close to my heart.

“I’m no longer the best player on the team, but hopefully, I can help from a mental and preparation standpoint. I’ll be coaching several of the guys in the singles matches.”

Victoria Stephens is among several newcomers who will benefit from Manders’s knowledge and know-how throughout the tennis competition in Guernsey.

Stephens, a lawyer at Marshall, Diel & Myers, is competing on the international stage for the first time and hopes for an unforgettable experience.

“Everyone has told me about the atmosphere and the camaraderie at the Games,” Stephens told Bernews.

“I expect it to be a great experience, and I’m looking forward to meeting people from different islands and backgrounds. It should be a fun event to be part of.”

More than 2,000 athletes from 24 member islands will compete in 14 different sports across 25 venues in Guernsey.

Tennis team

  • Men: James Finnigan, Gavin Manders, Tariq Simons, David Thomas, Christopher Weeks.
  • Women: Shelby Madeiros, Victoria Stephens.
  • Officials: Damian Pitcher, Lionel Bartley, Steve Bean.

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