KUCHING: Sarawak Lawn Tennis Association (SLTA) and Sarawak Sports School SMK Tabuan Jaya (SMKTJ) have been praised for their efforts in developing tennis at the grassroots level.
Assistant Minister of Youth and Sports Datuk Snowdan Lawan said he was pleased about the agreement reached between SLTA and SMKTJ on the upgrading of the school’s tennis facilities.
“The Ministry of Education through the Sarawak Education Department has approved the upgrading of the tennis facilities in SMKTJ and a subsequent tennis development programme,” Snowdan said after receiving a courtesy call from SLTA president Dato Patrick Liew Chin Joon at his office at the new wing of Bangunan Baitulmakmur in Petra Jaya yesterday.
“This (tennis) is the first sport that is not listed in Liga KPM under the Sarawak State Education Department to get the approval for the development programme from the department,” he added.
Snowdan hailed the joint development programme as a role model of cooperation between non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and schools.
“The upgrading also involves the Sarawak Sports Corporation (SSC) which will provide the funds to necessitate upgrading works.
“Through this kind of cooperation, we can see the creation of a bigger pool of tennis players and we cannot just simply focus on one or two athletes,” he added.
The Balai Ringin assemblyman also hoped to see more tennis players coming from the rural areas, and that tennis would become a sport for all races and not only dominated by certain ethnic groups.
Meanwhile, Liew was happy with the positive development and said SMKTJ would become the sub-centre where tennis can be developed at grassroots level.
“We will be working very closely with SMKTJ and SSC to develop more players who will be groomed into calibre players to represent the state in national and international tournaments.
“I am also hoping the present quota of eight players annually in SMKTJ be increased so that we can have a bigger pool of players.
“Through the programme we also help to open the way for students to gain entry into universities and also to be trained as tennis officials,” he said.
There are two tennis courts at SMKTJ and 10 players are currently training under the school tennis development programme headed by teacher coach Stevie Din.
Also present during the courtesy call were SSC chief executive officer Dr Ong Kong Swee, sports development division manager Ahmad Rodzli Hashim, Sarawak Education Department Sports Unit assistant director Johnny Rasit, SMKTJ principal Edward Ngelai, senior assistant (co-curriculum) Morgan Madang and Stevie.