IPOH: Tennis should be included as one of the permanent core sports in Sukan Malaysia (Sukma) and not according to the decision of the host state which may exclude it if they have no medal prospects.
According to Sarawak Lawn Tennis Association (SLTA) president Dato Patrick Liew, the present system where tennis takes place one Sukma and excluded in the next is disruptive for tennis development.
“For example, in Sukma XIX in Perak this year, tennis is not competed as a medal event but as a demonstration event along with volleyball and fencing.
“As tennis is not included in this Sukma, the budget is not allocated for the preparation. For one and half years we did not prepare very well for our players and this has caused our standard to drop by 30 to 40 pct.
“We are unable to attract potential players who we can groom into national players because they see the inconsistency and also the continuity of going further as national players or eventually get a sports scholarship to study in the USA,” he told The Borneo Post.
Furthermore, Liew said players who won gold in the last Sukma get incentives allowances and because tennis is not competed in this Sukma, they no longer enjoy the incentives.
“We are very sad with this kind of policy and we do hope that after Sukma Perak this thing will not happen again. Once tennis is in, it must be competed in every Sukma, whether it is a core sport or not.
“Tennis is one of the biggest sports in the world. It is competed at the Commonwealth Games, Olympics and Grand Slam why not in Sukma?” he asked.
He hoped the matter will be seriously considered by the National Sports Council for the sake of tennis development in the country.
“SLTA has organised international completions for 25 years and tennis has helped put Sarawak on the world tennis map. Apart from that, and we also created big spin-offs for the state.
“As volunteers in a non-governmental organisation, it will be very tough for us to organise development programmes especially with the uncertainty of the players’ participation in the next Sukma,” added Liew.