SDLTA’s vice president Simon Tiong said this was the main aim of the recently launched junior tennis development programme which involves players in the under-14 age group.
Tiong said most of the young players here are lacking exposure because they rarely have the opportunity to compete in major tournaments.
“With the programme specially tailored for the young, we can see a brighter future for them and we have taken the first step towards achieving it…the onus is on the players to train hard and ensure that SDLTA is able to produce players of national or even international caliber in the not too distant future,” he told the Borneo Post recently.
And for the first time ever, SDLTA is sending players in the upcoming under 14 Asian Tennis Federation (ATF) junior championship to be held in Kuching sometime in September where top players from Asian countries are expected to compete.
The association is planning to send four to six of its outstanding players to compete in the event where SDLTA is optimistic of their chances based on their fine showing shown during training.
“Hopefully, they will become the torchbearers for the up-and-coming young guards to emulate,’ he said while disclosing that those players who excelled in the Kuching event may be sent to compete in the Sabah leg later this year.
According to him, SDLTA is sending players to take part in the event for the first time because previously there is lack of qualified coaches and development programme for budding players.
“We do not have proper coaches and this is about the biggest single factor that had affected us,” he said on why the standard of tennis has not progress in recent years.
In any sport, it is important to have a qualified coach or else, the standard of that particular game will stay stagnate or even deteriorate and that was why he decided to make some sacrifices when he became SDLTA coach.
He also roped in Brandon Wong, former Sukma player and Sibu tennis champion, to guide the junior players who are currently training at SDLTA tennis courts on Monday and Thursday nights, from 7 pm to 9 pm.
The ATF championship will be used by the association as a yardstick to gauge the effectiveness of its development programme but most of all it will be a good eye-opener for them.
SDLTA is also planning another round of its coaching development programme during September’s school holidays where beginners from primary schools can come and take part in learning the basic skills, strokes and footwork in tennis- www.theborneopost.com