Monday, 11 February 2013

Double blow dampens states’ enthusiasm to develop tennis

KUALA LUMPUR: Tennis is an Olympic sport, offers lucrative prize money and is hugely popular globally.
In Malaysia though, the sport is being completely ignored. It has not been selected as a programme in the Malaysia Games (Sukma) in Bukit Jalil from June 28-July 7.
The sport also suffered a double disappointment when it was recently dropped from this year’s SEA Games in Myanmar.
And a frustrated Johnson Koh, the Sabah Tennis Association (SBA) president, feels that the double blow has dampened the enthusiasm shown by the various states to develop the sport.
“Most of us at the state level are very frustrated with this. We’ve put in so much effort to groom the youngsters, who have trained hard and were looking forward to these Games. But now, we do not have a competitive platform to gauge their standards,” he said.
“Sukma is held on alternate years. States hold it one year and Putrajaya the other. We were made to understand that if the states do not choose tennis, it will then be hosted in Putrajaya. Unfor­tunately, it was not hosted last year (in Malacca) and it is not in this year’s programme either.
“How are we to convince parents to encourage their young ones to take up the sport when they have nothing to look forward to. The national body (LTAM) have their age-group tournament but we are short of competitive tournaments.”
He was also disappointed that the national players have now also lost another platform to gauge themselves following Myanmar’s decision to drop the sport at the biennial Games this year.
“This is sad. For a sport that is so popular worldwide, it doesn’t get much of a chance here in Malaysia or this region. I hope our local authority will review their decision and give these aspiring youngsters a break ... give them a shot to make tennis a career,” said Johnson, who is also an exco member of LTAM.-