MANILA, Philippines — Businessman and sports patron Jean-Henri Lhuillier is being eyed to replace Salvador “Buddy” Andrada as president of the Philippine Tennis Association (PHILTA).
This comes after Andrada announced that he will step down as the PHILTA president following claims that the association has experienced stagnant growth due to the lack of concrete programs the past few years.
PHILTA has likewise been mired by leadership disputes, and stakeholders are calling for changes to improve Philippine tennis.
Lhuillier, president and CEO of Cebuana Lhuillier, comes well recommended by some major figures in Philippine tennis.
“We thank Mr. Andrada for his decision to step down and thus pave the way for an orderly transition in PHILTA’s leadership," said Bobby Castro, president and CEO of Palawan Pawnshop.
Former PHILTA regional vice-president John Pages, who helped organized five Davis Cup ties in Cebu City, said he recommends Lhuillier for the position.
“I know Jean Henri and you cannot find someone with more enthusiasm and passion for tennis."
For his part, Philippine Sports (PSC) Commissioner William “Butch” Ramirez previously released a statement backing Lhuillier, whom he called “a genuine lover and supporter of the sport of tennis.”
Palawan Pawnshop together with Cebuana Lhuillier earlier bolted out from PHILTA's calendar and announced a unified ranking system.
Tournament organizers and sponsors soon followed their move.
Lhuillierr has previously expressed his intent to run for the presidency but was denied the opportunity when Andrada did not open the position during the elections last February 8.
He said that should he be elected as next president of the association, his main agenda is to improve the quality and popularity of the sport in the country.
“If given the chance to lead, I’ll ensure that long-term programs—that will promote the popularity of the sport, enhance the rankings of our national players as well as discover and harness fresh talents, will be in place. I’ll also make sure that the association will be more inclusive. I’m confident that with the support of all stakeholders, we can achieve something special for Philippine tennis in the coming years. I’ve always believed that tennis is a sport that Filipinos can be at par with the world’s best,” said Lhuillier.
Lhuillier’s long list of support to Philippine tennis started way back in 1994 when he organized and funded a Men’s tennis open. He has since been the team manager and sponsor of the Philippine Davis Cup team for more than 10 years and supports the international campaigns of the country’s top players such as Treat Huey, Ruben Gonzales, Francis Casey Alcantara and Katharina Lehnert.
He has likewise been sponsoring top local tournaments such as the annual PCA Open and was instrumental in bringing international tournaments the past few years such as the ATP Challenger and the ITF and ATF Men’s Futures.
The businessman also spearheads the long-standing Cebuana Lhuillier Age Group Tennis, which has been ongoing for the past 11 years and has helped produce top national and collegiate players in the country.