KUALA LUMPUR: The impending privatisation of the National Tennis Centre (NTC) in Jalan Duta has been well-documented over the past few months.
The Lawn Tennis Association of Malaysia (LTAM), who use NTC as a base for the national team, were the first to bring up the matter but the Malaysia Stadium Corporation (MSC) have been tight-lipped over the issue.
Today, it was the public's turn to voice out over NTC’s future.
Rizal Salleh, 40, is against the move to privatise NTC as he fears that it will wipe out community tournaments held there regularly and also make it harder and more expensive for social players to book the courts.
"At the moment, it is already hard enough to book an (outdoor) court between 5pm and 7pm daily as we are competing with the (private) coaches. The indoor courts are normally used by the national juniors," said Rizal, in a press conference organised by NTC’s tennis community on Monday.
"We do not know how it will be when it is privatised. The most important thing is whether our community can still continue playing here.
“Not everyone can afford a club membership and not all condominiums have tennis courts.
"I also fear that our community tournaments - not for national juniors - but for us, the social or club-level player will not be held anymore. We, the tennis community, are all friends regardless of what car we drive, where we work and how much we make.
"I hope that the court (rental) fees will not be increased. I know that whoever gets the centre will be looking to make a profit, but if it is all about profit the sport will suffer.
"For me, I do not want it to be privatised, I want everybody to be able to play and enjoy the game. You have to remember that it is not just about producing top 10 players, it is also about the basics (grassroots) and when everybody enjoys the game everybody improves."
Mohd Fuzi Yusof, 64, believes that the privatisation will further reduce the number of public tennis courts available in KL.
"I am all for the Sports Minister's Fit Malaysia programme, however, if you want to make it a success you have to make the necessary facilities available to the public," said Fuzi.
"At the moment we are losing our public courts. The Keramat National Sports Complex, which had two courts, has been taken over (for redevelopment) and will be replaced by a different complex in Nilai.
"The three courts owned by Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) on Jalan Jelatek have also been demolished to make way for road widening.
"This centre should remain for national players who earned their place by merit and not become an (private) academy where parents show up in their big cars and we do not know if they (their children) are entitled to be a national player."
A number of private academies have been short-listed for the job by Malaysia Stadium Corporation (PSM) though it is not known when a final decision will be made and when management of the facility will be handed over.
keywords: Tennis, LTAM, National Tennis Centre, tennis home, future