Turf wars dooming Philippine sports



Philippine sports is a house divided.

There have been turf wars among top officials in chess, volleyball and tennis, to name a few, causing the country to be a perennial doormat in these disciplines and all others as well in the Olympic Games, world championships, Asian Games and Southeast Asian Games (as if this event matters at all).

In tennis, for example, not one Filipino—male or female—has followed in the footsteps of Francis Casey Alcantara, who was 18 when he won the 2009 Australian Open junior boys doubles title with a Taiwanese partner.

Big deal? Yes, the Australian Open is one of world tennis’ Grand Slam tournaments.

Yet, clueless Philippine tennis overlords did not think that Alcantara deserved their support.

Apparently getting none from power brokers in the Philippine Lawn Tennis Association (PHILTA), foreign scouts enabled him to ace tennis scholarships at Fresno State University and Pepperdine University in the United States.

After graduation from Pepperdine, he returned to the Philippines about three years ago, a decision that paid off when he was picked by PHILTA for the country’s Davis Cup team.

Not that he did not merit a slot in the team, in our opinion, but it was really slim pickings for the tennis overlords as they have nothing more than aging Filipino- Americans to choose from and who had not even come close to winning Challenger tournaments (let’s not even talk about Grand Slams).

Fresh from a victory in Group 2 of Davis Cup play against Indonesia (4-1), Alcantara and company are staring at political realities of the Philippine tennis world.

The recent PHILTA election for a new set of officials of the association was reported to have been boycotted by the camp of Jean Henri Lhuiller, who literally has put his money where his mouth is where tangible support for the sport is concerned.

Apparently, Lhuillier found the “election” to be a farce, with PHILTA allowing the low comedy to proceed and with voters making Salvador Andrada “win,” unopposed.

Andrada, all of 81 years old, was reported not to have been elected but only allowed to continue the unexpired term of former PHILTA president Edwin Olivares, now a lawmaker representing Parañaque City (Metro Manila).

He had previously served as PHILTA chief for 20 years.

What is it for these people in the National Sports Associations (NSAs) that makes them want to “serve” Philippine sports even if they are unable to walk and talk, literally?

To be part of the country’s quest for its Olympic gold medal?

This would happen in a million years, give or take two, three, four centuries, if geriatrics continued to rule over the NSAs.


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