Sport: Guam Tennis boss appointed to ITF taskforce
Oceania Tennis to get a say on the global game.
The President of the Guam National Tennis Federation hopes to be a voice for Oceania on the world stage after being appointed to an International Tennis Federation taskforce to provide information and support for smaller nations.
Torgun Smith will be joined on this taskforce by representatives from Egypt, Costa Rica, South Africa, Bolivia, Hong Kong and Hungary.
TORGUN SMITH: Talking to the new president, David Haggerty, before and after his election in September he wants to get input from everyone so he's formed this non-World Group taskforce to try and get some input from a wider range of federations around the world and the challenges that we have.
VINNIE WYLIE: As the President of a small tennis nation what sort of experiences or daily challenges do you encounter in your role you think would perhaps be a surprise to bigger nations and the sort of things that in this Oceania region aren't things that other countries have to worry about?
TS: Guam and most of the Oceania countries are "Class C" countries, which means that we don't have a vote in the ITF - we're almost affiliate members [and] we don't have our own Davis Cup teams, although ITF has allowed the Class C nations for the Pacific specifically to have a regional team. So we have the Pacific Oceania Davis Cup team which has gone as high as [Asia/Oceania] Group Two but we've also gone from Group Two down to Group Four and now back up to Group Three. There are a lot of challenges that we have with sponsorship for example.
VW: If you went up to Class B you'd be able to have your own Davis or Fed Cup teams. Guam have Daniel Llarenas, who has been a part of the Pacific Oceania men's team and they obviously had a good result last year, after a few difficult seasons. Do you think that if the likes of Guam were able to compete on their own right, on their own two feet, that they could develop and be competitive in years to come?
TS: We have made intention at last year's ITF Annual General Meeting to become a Class B nation and we will submit our application this year [in June]. It's a three-year process: you have to make your intention then you have to make your application and then if your application is approved you're welcomed into Class B the third year so we're hoping to be a Class B nation in 2017. I hope to make that Guam's top of the pyramid where our players will strive to be on the Davis Cup team and 18-30 year olds will have something to play for annually, rather than just every four years the Pacific Games or Micronesian Games. It's hard to keep players motivated sometimes when the events are quite far away and I hope that many of the other Pacific nations will look at that same model and perhaps strive to get into Class B. That's part of the agenda I'll bring to the non-World Group meeting is what about Class C? Why can't Class C participate in Davis Cup and why can't there be maybe a Group Five and have the Class C countries play against each other? I think the ITF is looking at a lot of different options.
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