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Tennis prepares for historic ITF visit

Published: 
Wednesday, December 6, 2017
Hayden Mitchell.......the TATT president

The first ever visit by an ITF director- Italian Luca Santilli is set to take centre stage in the tennis fraternity over the next couple days.

The Italian who is responsible in the ITF for reviewing, leading and implementing the ITF world development programmes in six regions around the world to ensure an effective and substantial impact on the growth of tennis where it is most needed, is scheduled to touch down on local shores tonight to hold talks with officials of the Tennis Association of T&T and its president Hayden Mitchell on how the sport and its spanking new state-of-the art National Racquet Centre at Tacarigua (NRC), can be used to introduce a holistic development programme for the region.

The TATT has made it clear its intention to become the ITF Training Centre in the region which is expected to lead to its dream of having a local player among the top 150-ranked players worldwide by 2026.

Santilli will discuss ways to take the sport forward and how the ITF can play a part in it. Mitchell, whose involvement as new tennis president has brought a breath of fresh air to the sport, said the visit came after a year of planning and negotiations, but he intends to propel the sport to new heights in the region.

Among some of the topics to be raised are the sport’s structure, the need for more technical officials and coaches among many others.

This meeting will take place tomorrow at the NRC from 9:30am, following which a press conference will be held from 2:30pm comprising Santilli, Mitchell, Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs Darryl Smith and his team, other officials of the TATT and the media at the racquet centre.

Mitchell said he will explore his avenues to stage many ITF-sanctioned tournaments after the discussions, as part of its overall vision. He also intends to pursue the creation of a Caribbean Elite ITF Tournament annually which he believes will help his association achieve its objectives.

“By having the region’s elite tennis players here annually will help with the marketing and promotion of the country and the facility and thereby increase the potential for sport tourisms that will also assist with diversification” Mitchell said.

Prior to his current role, Santilli was responsible for the ITF juniors and seniors activities (2003-2015) world-wide including the coveted Junior Davis Cup and Junior Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Finals, the Youth Olympic Games tennis event (2010 & 2014) and the ITF Junior Masters created in 2015.

He has many years’ tennis experience including 8 years working for the Italian Tennis Federation where he was in charge of national and international Junior and Women’s events.

The meeting also comes on the heels of the recent visit by ITF consultant Gustavo Granitto, who publicly supported the vision of the TATT after being impressed by the NRC. His report to ITF president David Haggerty has led to Santilli’s visit.

WALTER ALIBEY