New leadership for Singapore tennis

New Singapore Tennis Association chief Nicholas Lim, 70, says his team will look at improving existing programmes and sponsorships coming in.
New Singapore Tennis Association chief Nicholas Lim, 70, says his team will look at improving existing programmes and sponsorships coming in.PHOTO: TIFFANY GOH FOR THE SUNDAY TIMES

New chief Lim looks to secure home for STA, maintain juniors' full-time programme

The Singapore Tennis Association (STA) will be in the hands of a new team after an annual general meeting yesterday saw a majority of the management committee positions filled by new faces.

Chinese Swimming Club's Nicholas Lim was elected the association's new chief, succeeding Edwin Lee, the veteran sports administrator who stepped down after 14 years at the helm.

Lim, a 70-year-old retiree who was formerly in the banking line and once served as the STA's assistant honorary secretary, will be assisted by vice-presidents Baljit Singh (1st), Smarco Ho (2nd) and Abas Mutalib (3rd).

The next step: Changing players' mindset

"The incoming committee has heaps of work to do. Our players tried hard at the SEA Games. They lost but didn't lose badly. To take it to the next step, you need to turn semi-pro or professional. You won't make it if you're just going (to play) for university."

EDWIN LEE, outgoing Singapore Tennis Association president

Eight of the 13 positions within the MC are new appointments.

Lim's election was seen as a surprise, given that several observers had touted Dr Goh Jin Hian of the Singapore Island Country Club to win the race for the presidency.

His priorities for the STA include securing a home for the association. He will also work to ensure the longevity of its full-time tennis programme for juniors, as well as look to start a tennis academy here.

After the two-hour meeting at Keppel Club which saw some heated exchanges, Lim told The Sunday Times: "We want to continue the good work that the (previous) committee has done for many years.

"If you look at (tennis in Singapore), the programmes are there. How to improve on the programmes, look at sponsorships coming in - we'll work on these."

While he admitted that certain initiatives could use a relook, Lim noted the sport has come a long way in recent years and is keen to ride on a recent growth in interest and momentum injected by the arrival of events like the Women's Tennis Association Finals.

He said: "The tennis fraternity in Singapore is not a big one... but we definitely want to move (up). We look forward to working with younger people."

Outgoing president Lee, although hopeful that the local tennis scene is on a stronger foundation than when he first took over, said a paradigm shift is needed for Singapore to be able to match its neighbours.

Tennis was one of three sports at the SEA Games, which featured 36 sports, that Singapore athletes failed to yield a medal in.

"The incoming committee has heaps of work to do," said Lee. "Our players tried hard at the SEA Games. They lost but didn't lose badly. To take it to the next step, you need to turn semi-pro or professional. You won't make it if you're just going (to play) for university.

"Singapore tennis is on strong foundation now. It's for the incoming committee to maximise (on that)."

maychen@sph.com.sg

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 28, 2015, with the headline 'New leadership for Singapore tennis'. Print Edition | Subscribe