Lhuillier sees bright future for PH tennis

Published April 15, 2017, 12:05 AM
By Nick Giongco

Tennis patron Jean Henri Lhuillier admits that his dream of changing the landscape of Philippine tennis might end up being just that.

Lhuillier, who at some point during the height of controversy appeared a shoo-in to be the next Philta president, seems resigned that it may not happen anymore.

“It doesn’t look promising at this point with the numerous cancellations and reneged vows from the other group,” Lhuillier said in an email to the Bulletin over the weekend.

A general meeting involving officials of the Philta (Philippine Tennis Association) is set on April 21 in preparation for an election on April 28 as advised by the Philippine Olympic Committee.

This meeting is likely to be the make-or-break event for Lhuillier and Philta.

Last month, the POC decided to annul the controversial election of Salvador Andrada as Philta president after several stakeholders led by Lhuillier walked out of the reorganizational meeting when they were told that there will be no election for president, only for the minor posts.

Days later, many other stakeholders broke their alliance with Philta and formed a group that vowed to pursue tennis development independent of the tennis association.

To get the stakeholders back, the POC asked Parañaque City Mayor Edwin Olivarez to reassume the position of president which he relinquished after the election.

But the stakeholders are still asking why the POC and the Philta had reneged on the agreement brokered by the International Tennis Federation to let Lhuillier take over the association.

Despite this, Lhuillier said he is not giving up and will give it another shot when a meeting is held on April 21.

“For the sake of unity, I am willing to hear them out one last time.”

Lhuillier, along with Bobby Castro of Palawan Pawnshop, conduct over 100 tournaments as the country’s only nationwide grassroots tennis program.

Lhuillier also heavily supports the Davis Cup team. He is also credited for bringing in some of the world’s tennis stars here for two years in a row.

It is for this reason that many believe Lhuillier and his group, under the banner known as United Tennis Group or UTG, should now be given a chance to run the association.

The trouble, they said, is that if the same number and the same set of electors will determine the next election and they agree not to pass on the torch, Philta will have the same old leadership.

Lhuillier explained that he is not lusting for the post and he will be more than willing to step aside in favor of “someone who I know is sincere in helping to improve the state of tennis and presents a better platform.”

However, he said, if chosen to lead the association, he will call for a summit “to hear out the ideas from all stakeholders, amend the by-laws especially about just having 12 stakeholders.”

“We need to involve the different regions in the country, all stakeholders should be represented,” said Lhuillier.

“My mindset right now is I want to spearhead the development and growth of tennis. I have plans on how to make our association a world-class association that will produce world-class players,” he said.

The problem is, will he be given that chance?

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