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End of year review: Tennis

By Shafik Ssenoga

Added 19th December 2016 01:37 PM

UTA raised sh19.95m in cash and pledges.

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UTA raised sh19.95m in cash and pledges.

The year 2016 for Ugandan tennis didn’t have much in terms of local events but top stars including Duncan Mugabe, David Oringa, Simon Ayella and Borris Aguma took part in tournaments outside the country.

The year was also about how Uganda Tennis Association (UTA) could be re-affiliated to the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and Confederation of Africa Tennis (CAT).

UTA ceased to be affiliated to ITF in 2012 after failing to clear the annual subscription of sh14.5m then.

The figure rose to sh90m over the period. This includes the money owed to CAT.

Plans were put in place such as organising Friday Tennis Challenge matches and a campaign to get firms and individuals to raise money through other avenues.

UTA raised sh19.95m in cash and pledges.

But what could have been considered as a turning point for Ugandan tennis is when UTA and government through National Council of Sports (NCS) agreed to clear the sh90m debt.

This would enable UTA to get back re-admitted by ITF and CAT starting next year.

NCS is supposed to clear the sh83m debt with ITF while UTA will pay sh7m for CAT.

Being affiliated to ITF and CAT entitle Uganda to various benefits.

Domestic players get grants to participate in various ITF junior circuits, participation in Davis Cup and Fed Cup events.

The players go to ITF training centers in Burundi and Morocco, there grants for coaches to attend courses.

In addition, talented players are picked to attend the ITF/Grand Slam development and fund junior touring teams.

On the local scene, there were few events staged.

Most players resorted to taking part in events outside the country.

They competed in events like the Kenya Open, Mozambique F1 and F2 Futures, Rwanda Open, Goma Open and the Jean Claude Gasigwa Memorial tournaments.

Oringa lost in the men’s singles final in the Rwanda Open final, in mixed doubles in the Kenya Open.

Oringa, the number two seed, is looking forward to Uganda UTA being re-admitted to the ITF and CAT.

“We have missed so many opportunities because we are not part of ITF or CAT,”

“For example,  Kenya staged the Africa Nations Tennis Championship where many top players on the continent participated.

“Through such events, we can gauge our strength as as a country. I know UTA has done its best to ensure that we are affiliated again.”

He added, “If we are back in ITF and CAT next year, everything will be fine. Young players will achieve a lot”.

UTA organised a few events like the holiday clinics and the annual tennis schools tournament funded by the Uganda Children’s Trust Fund.

But Mugabe and Ayella were banned from Britam Kenya Open Tennis Championship for one year.

Mugabe had reached the men’s singles final before the ban. Ayella and Mugabe had also reached the men’s doubles semi-finals in the same event before he was sent home. They were banned on grounds of indiscipline.

Having had little action this year, there is hope in the tennis fraternity that the situation will change next season.

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