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Nations push for tennis inclusion at SEA Games

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The Tennis Federation of Cambodia is pushing the 2013 SEA Games organising committee in Myanmar to include tennis. Photograph: Sreng Meng Srun/Phnom Penh Post

Top tennis officials from the ASEAN region are meeting today in Bangkok under the aegis of the Asian Tennis Federation (ATF) to co-ordinate a joint effort in persuading the Myanmar Olympic Committee to reconsider its decision to drop tennis from the 2013 SEA Games this December.

Tennis, which has been a medal sport since the inception of the SEA Games in 1958, was omitted by the organisers, citing lack of facilities as one of the prime reasons. But member nations are not prepared to buy this argument and are determined to fight to the finish.

The ATF is now throwing its full weight behind a concerted effort by the regional players to bring about a change of heart in Yangon.

Before departing for Bangkok for this crucial meeting yesterday, Tennis Federation of Cambodia Secretary General Tep Rithivit told the Post that the entire tennis community, including the ITF and ATF, had been taken by surprise that a popular Olympic discipline was taken out of a prestigious event like the SEA Games.

“I have been in contact with all our regional partners, and there is only one question that is on everyone’s lips – how can this happen?

“I am glad that the ATF president, Anil Khanna, is now in the forefront of our joint effort and I am hopeful of a positive outcome,” said Tep Rithivit.

Interestingly, Myanmar Tennis Federation president Aung Maw Thien said he had been saddened by the decision.

While conceding that tennis facilities needed improvements, the president pointed out that the issue had indeed been addressed with the TFM contracting resurfacing work on six courts to SEARA Sports ahead of the Asia-Oceania Group III & IV Davis Cup Series which Myanmar will be hosting at the end of April.

“If ever there was a time for us to bond and support each other for the greater good of tennis, it is now,” Aung Maw Thien wrote in a letter to the ATF President.

Anil Khanna said he was strongly urging the organisers to reinstate tennis in the Games schedule.

“We are extremely disappointed that a popular sport like tennis has been dropped without consultation with us or ITF,” added the ATF chief.

To contact the reporter on this story: H S Manjunath at hirimanju@yahoo.com

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