Manders Retires From Tennis Competitions

November 7, 2023 | 1 Comment

[Written by Stephen Wright]

Gavin Manders, the island’s most successful tennis player, has decided to bring the curtain down on his decorated career.

Manders retires with the most wins [33] for Bermuda at the Davis Cup – the premier international team event in men’s tennis; he is also the most decorated local athlete at the NatWest International Island Games with 14 medals.

The 37-year-old’s final appearance in Bermuda’s colours came at the Island Games in Guernsey in July – which he attended with his sons Gavin Jr and Kai – winning bronze in the team event and men’s doubles.

Fittingly, he carried the island’s flag at the opening ceremony, which he cites as one of the proudest moments of his career.

“After the Island Games, I took a family vacation for almost a month just to give myself a chance to decompress and think about things before returning to the everyday hustle back home,” Manders told Bernews. “It feels like the right time [to retire].

“Having the boys with me in Guernsey at the opening ceremony was a great moment for me – it was the feather in my cap!

“I’ve done it all and am happy with my achievements. It’s time for the younger generation – Trey [Mallory], Tariq [Simons] and Daniel [Phillips] to take things on.”

Last summer, Manders helped Bermuda retain its Davis Cup Americas group three status for the first time with a highest finish of fifth in Paraguay, where he was awarded the International Tennis Federation Davis Cup Commitment Award for long-time service to the island.

For 15 years, Manders represented Bermuda at the Davis Cup and hopes to continue his involvement in future campaigns as a coach.

“I have spoken to Ricky [Mallory, the Bermuda Davis Cup coach and non-playing captain], and I want to get more into the coaching side with the team,” said Manders, who is the only tennis player to receive the Male Athlete of the Year award, which he won in 2009.

“I’ve already been an assistant coach of some sort. I’d love to be a non-playing captain and coach someday.”

Although Manders is incredibly proud of his individual and team achievements, he insists his success would have been impossible without the support of his family, team-mates and coaches.

“When I look at my accomplishments, I look at everyone who made it possible,” said Manders, the No 1 ranked player on the island for 13 years until 2020.

“Coming from the Manders family, I was raised with a champion mentality. My mom [Disa Potgieter-Oubella] was my rock throughout the ups and downs of my career from an emotional standpoint. I had more than 20 years of international competition – it wasn’t all rainbows!

“Sam Maybury influenced me as my mentor, and Craig Brown at Apex Physio kept me available for so long. Without his help, I wouldn’t have had such longevity.

“I’ll cherish the memories and the moments I shared with people, especially my team-mates, rather than the accomplishments themselves.”

Remarkably, Manders’ tennis journey was almost over before it had really begun.

Disillusioned as a student at the Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, Manders quit playing before rediscovering his love for the sport, coaching youngsters at the “Temple of Tennis” at Port Royal under the tutelage of Maybury.

“I had some stuff going on and was trying to figure things out,” he said. “I didn’t see the value in tennis anymore.

“I figured out very fast that tennis was a big part of my life because I wasn’t very effective without it! That’s when I met Sam Maybury; he helped reignite my passion for the game.”

Bermuda’s most qualified coach – he completed the International Tennis Federation Level 2 coaching badge last summer – Manders will continue developing the next generation of talent at Manders Tennis Management [MTM], which he formed in 2017.

“I’ll be putting more focus into MTM [at the WER Joell Tennis Stadium], and I’ve also picked up Pickleball and will be getting more involved with that,” he added.

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  1. Pete Sampras says:

    Enjoy your retirement legend.

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