Embattled Philta assures: Pro players can still play

Philippine Tennis Association (Philta) officials assured athletes their participation in individual tournaments would not get affected despite the association’s two-year suspension from the International Tennis Federation (ITF).

In Tuesday’s guesting at the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum, Philta president Antonio Cablitas said players, particularly pro athletes like Alex Eala, Francis Casey Alcantara and Ruben Gonzales, to name a few, can still compete in Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) and ITF-sanctioned events.

Philta is also confident that athletes can still compete in the 2021 Southeast Asian Games since they are representing the country, not the association, although they would have to clarify this first to the SEAG organization where Vietnam is host.

The country, however, cannot participate in team events like the Davis Cup and the Fed Cup, but Cablitas said those would have minimal impacts since the two events still don’t have schedule for 2021.

It would be likely that the country can compete in two team events in 2022, where at that time, Philta is confident the ITF issue has been resolved.

“Inaayos na namin lahat ng papeles that ITF is requiring us to submit. I assure you that we can handle this so that our athletes will not get affected,” Cablitas said.

Cablitas added national athletes will also continue receiving financial support and allowances from the Philippine Sports Commission despite the ITF suspension since their leadership is still recognized by the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC).

Philta vice president Martin Misa also encouraged athletes to focus on their training and not get distracted on the issues currently happening.

“I urge athletes to focus on the things that they can control, on keep on training and improving their skills rather than politics, because those are distractions for them,” Misa said.

The ITF suspended Philta last November on the basis of “long-standing governance failings” although ITF president David Haggerty recommended that the ban would be lifted once they have fixed the governance and representation issues.

These include gathering tennis stakeholders for an election on Jan. 2, 2021 as mandated by the association’s Constitution and By Laws.

Philta is expected to release notice of the elections this week and has already asked permission from the POC if they can hold it virtually.