SOME of the Philippine tennis stakeholders, led by Jean Henri Lhuillier, can now heave a sigh of relief after the International Tennis Federation announced its non-recognition of the presidency of Atty. Antonio Cablitas and demanded the troubled association and its board of trustees to clean up their act or face possible sanctions.
No less than ITF president David Haggerty sent a letter to PHILTA and Philippine Olympic Committee officials expressing disappointment and concern over the leadership row that has negatively affected the growth and development of local tennis.
Lhuillier, along with fellow PHILTA Board members Randy Villanueva, Julito Villanueva and Gerard Maronilla were the ones who exposed the issues inside PHILTA, foremost of which were its being very exclusive and lacking in programs.
A leading and long-time patron of the sport, Lhuillier welcomes the decision of the ITF to finally intervene in the infighting.
“We have been demanding for PHILTA officials to make improvements in running the association because it has already derailed the development of tennis in the country for so long,” said Lhuillier.
On Oct. 20, the ITF sent a letter to PHILTA and POC officials expressing its “disappointment on the events that have destabilized the governance of tennis in the Philippines” as it demanded the association to submit, until Nov. 15, a list of current members, qualifications and criteria for membership and a clear plan of action for how PHILTA intends to make changes to expand the representation of its membership.
ITF is also requiring PHILTA to submit several reports regarding its accomplishments for the last 2 to 3 years, such as the number of tournaments organized, number of coaching training sessions, number of training camps, and list of international competitions that the Philippines participated in.
“We are happy that the ITF has finally stepped in on this matter that has divided not only the leadership of the tennis association but also the hopes and dreams of our future tennis stars,” said Randy Villanueva, who along with other board trustees, has questioned the legitimacy of the election of Atty. Antonio Cablitas as PHILTA president in June 2017, and the results of the February elections, both of which were not recognized by the POC and ITF.
ITF also strongly suggested that PHILTA amend its Constitution and By-Laws before any new elections can take place, otherwise, they can face strict sanctions such as suspension which is pursuant to the ITF by-law 7 of the ITF Constitution.
The content of the report does not look promising as it’s a well-known fact that almost all the tennis activities happening in the country for the last few years have been initiated by private sponsors such as CebuanaLhuillier, Palawan Pawnshop, Dunlop, Babolat, and Toby’s Sports, among others and tennis patrons such as Lhuillier and Palawan Pawnshop president and CEO Bobby Castro.