ITF calls for response as PHILTA management issues remain unanswered

By Kristoffer Ed Bellen

MANILA—Almost three months after the International Tennis Federation (ITF) sent a directive towards the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) and the Philippine Tennis Association (PHILTA) mandating the country’s national tennis governing body to fix its woes regarding their management, it seemed like the issues are far from being resolved as another letter was issued to the PHILTA Board of Trustees on Wednesday.

In a statement by board members Jean Henri Lhuillier, Gerald Maronilla, and Randy and Julito Villanueva, the committee noted that ITF vice president and Asian Tennis Federation (ATF) president Anil Khanna met with PHILTA at the expense of ITF President David Haggerty to remind the association of the pending resolutions and expected full response to the issues raised in Oct. 20 last year including the amendment of the PHILTA by-laws and the list of accomplishments in the last two to three years.

The current PHILTA management issues stemmed from the association’s three presidential elections last year resulting to the presidency of Atty. Antonio Cablitas who is yet to be recognized by the ITF and the POC as all of the aforementioned elections turned out to be unsanctioned by the latter committees.

"We are open for communication and would like to find out more details regarding the amendment of PHILTA by-laws. We can't agree on anything at this time since there is nothing discussed yet regarding this. We really think that PHILTA must first address the issues raised by the ITF in their letter or we may face sanctions or suspension under By-Law 7 of the ITF Constitution,” said PHILTA Board of Trustees following a closed-door meeting with Khanna last week.

On Jan. 27, the PHILTA, along with the POC and other notable tennis aficionados in the country including all but five of its former presidents in Dr. Pablo Olivarez, ParaƱaque City mayor Edwin Olivarez, Col. Buddy Andrada, Manny Lisa, and Lito Villanueva attended a gathering of significant tennis figures in the country to discuss the association’s amalgamating move towards taking positive steps in establishing reforms for the betterment of the sport in the country.

Mayor Olivarez, furthermore, agreed to be the unifying factor for the collection of the country’s tennis stakeholders after taking full responsibility of the entire resolution process by acting as the chairman since the ITF and POC remained loyal to his recognition as the PHILTA president despite filing a resignation last June 2016 to focus on his public office duties.

The two-hour meeting at the Century Park Hotel shed a light of optimism for the PHILTA side as the association agreed to draft an amended constitution in accordance with the by-law seven of the ITF constitution which stipulates that the ITF Board of Directors may investigate or bring a complaint against a national association for “apparent breach of the Constitution or failure to represent the game of tennis adequately.”

“There’s nothing wrong with PHILTA as an institution. We should preserve it. PHILTA’s not the problem. It’s like a house. Maybe, somewhere along the line, the occupants took a wrong turn. That’s why we should put the house in order,” Cablitas remarked.

The ITF, meanwhile, acknowledged the gradual move of the PHILTA with the expectations that Olivarez and Cablitas taking charge to spearhead the management in order to solve their leadership crisis.

“We are happy that PHILTA realizes the need to change and have more reforms, and also to have a large involvement from major stakeholders because it is the only way that tennis can grow in every country even if we have difficulties with our resources,” Khanna said.

However, the PHILTA’s meetings to discuss the reforms are currently put on hold until after the Philippines participates in the upcoming Davis Cup first tie at Jakarta, Indonesia on Feb. 3-4, and at the Federation Cup in Bahrain on Feb. 6-10.

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