Sabah Tennis Association president Johnson Koh was a very happy and pleased man when he went to collect the association’s annual grant from Majlis Sukan Negeri on Friday.
Expressing his gratefulness and and happiness with the grant, Johnson said 11 years ago the grant allocated was not released to STA as it was deemed that the tennis body was not having significant activities.
However, all that changed when Johnson took over the helm and the grant of RM 15,000 was released after three months. From then on Johnson Koh and his office bearers swung into action and kept up the activities and at the same time knocked on the ministry’s doors.
The government through its sports ministry took note of the increased activities and the juniors development programs. The Asia Tennis Federation Under-14 was organized where Under-14 juniors from all over Asia came to Sabah to compete.
This was followed by organizing and hosting the international team tennis invitational tournament with a record 19 teams participating last year.
From then on the financial grant was gradually increased each year due to the good to STA’s hive of activities and this has not gone unntoiced.
“The juniors program accelerated and today we are proud that our juniors now can stand proud for Sabah and Malaysia. This is a tremendous achievement for the association which has paid special attention to the juniors,” said Johnson.
“There was a time when Sabah refused to send tennis teams to participate in SUKAN MALAYSIA (Sukma) until several years ago.”
Johnson, himself a keen tennis players and has represented Johor and Sabah in inter-state tournaments before, has taken special interest with the juniors.
Sabah’s tennis grassroots development in the sport was enough for Johnson to convince Sabah sports minister Datuk Tawfiq Titingan to send a tennis team to Sukma. Sabah came back with a historic gold in the mixed doubles at the 2016 Sukma in Sarawak.
“Christian Chin and Nurshaneem Shamsuddin had an outstanding year and both have now been spotted by Johan Kriek Tennis Academy and Nick Boleteri Tennis Academy respectively. This speaks of our achievements.
“Last year the grant was RM 55,000 and it has made STA not to rest on its laurels but instead continue with more development programmes, especially with the juniors,” said Johnson.