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Philta expects ITF ban to be lifted soon

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THE Philippine Tennis Association (Philta) is expecting to have its suspension from the International Tennis Federation (ITF) lifted soon after making reforms in its leadership and membership structure.

Philta President Atty. Antonio Cablitas said amendments have been made in the Philta Constitution to increase the association’s membership and representation.

During the Philta Trustees election held via Zoom on Jan. 2, 2021, Cablitas was elected president, Manuel Misa as vice president and treasurer, and Martin Misa as secretary general. The other Philta Trustees are Romeo Magat, Mayor Edwin Olivarez, Dr. Pablo Olivarez and Ms. Edna Olivarez-Nguyen.

The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) sent lawyer Edwin Gastanes, and Valeriano “Bones” Floro, a member of the Membership and Accreditation Commission, as representatives during the election.

“We are cooperating with the ITF,” said Cablitas in an interview with The Manila Times on Thursday.

It can be recalled that when the ITF handed Philta a two-year suspension in 2020, the world’s governing body in tennis proposed holding a valid election of a president and trustees, and implementing constitutional revisions to solve the issues.

Because of the ITF suspension, Philta was meted a 90-day suspension by the POC, which will now have direct management of the national tennis team.

“I accept the POC suspension because I know that I can resolve the issues with the ITF within 90 days,” said Cablitas, who was first elected as Philta president in June 2017.

“Ang talagang concern ko dito ay ang mga atleta. They can still continue. Nag-take over lang ang POC. The players should not be affected,” he added.

By virtue of the ITF suspension, Philta cannot attend any General Assembly meeting of the ITF, apply for any form of ITF funding or grant program, apply for any ITF Development technical support or ITF Development programs, apply for any national tournament to form part of the ITF Circuits including the ITF World Tennis Tour (men’s, women’s and juniors), ITF Wheelchair World Tour, ITF Beach Tennis Circuit and ITF Seniors Circuit, and participate in all ITF Official Team competitions.

Philta was informed about the ITF suspension in a letter sent by ITF President David Haggerty on Nov. 25, 2020.

Haggerty explained the reason for the suspension and how Philta can resolve the leadership and representation issues “to the reasonable satisfaction of the ITF Board of Directors.”

“The ITF reiterates its commitment to supporting Philta to make the necessary reforms that will enable Philta to apply for the suspension from the ITF membership to be lifted,” he said.

Haggerty said the ITF does not recognize Cablitas as president of Philta because his election in June 2017 “was not, according to the Philippine Olympic Committee, carried out in accordance with the POC procedure.”

What added to the ITF’s concern on the Philta leadership issue was the United Tennis Philippines (UTP), which was formed in October 2017.

UTP’s founding members are PJ Lhuillier Group of Companies President and CEO Jean Henri Lhuillier (president), Palawan Pawnshop President and CEO Bobby Castro (vice president), former Philta Vice President Randy Villanueva (secretary general), Gerardo Maronilla (treasurer), and Jackie Tomacruz, Lito Villanueva and Sen. Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri and Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara (directors). Randy Villanueva passed away two years ago.

The ITF said UTP claims to be the country’s legitimate national tennis association (NSA) and is recognized by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC).

But the UTP clarified that it never claimed to be an NSA and they never sought recognition from the PSC.

“We are not the national sports association. We are a tennis group which is here to help and support the tennis community,” said Tomacruz, who also serves as UTP general manager. “When we met with PSC chairman William (Butch) Ramirez, we just introduced our group. It was just a courtesy call.”

The UTP has 1,025 members composed of age-groupers and recreational (club) players. It organizes local tournaments and coaching clinics all over the country.

In his report to POC President Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino on Jan. 9, 2020, Cablitas said Philta has embarked on a countrywide, comprehensive tennis development program with emphasis on age-group tournaments, intensive training programs on its own and in tandem with ITF development programs and neighboring progressive tennis countries like Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and other Asia-Oceania countries.

“With these initiatives, the Philippines’ age-group players have found themselves in top standings among its Asian neighbors: Champions in the ITF 14 and Under World Junior Girls Division Asia Oceania Zone, 5th ITF 14 and Under World Junior Girls Division World Group Finals held in Czech Republic, winners in the ITF-Junior Davis Cup and Junior FED Cup Pre-Qualifying Asia-Oceania Zone,” Cablitas said.

— Jean Malanum

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Credit belongs to : www.manilatimes.net

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