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ITF chief coming to settle Philta power struggle

The head of the International Tennis Federation, David Haggerty, is arriving next week to look into an apparent power struggle within the Philippine Tennis Association which has been simmering for weeks since Edwin Olivares, its erstwhile president, resigned with two years left in his term.

Randy Villanueva, Philta executive vice president, took over as acting Philta president and was given the mandate by tennis stakeholders, including sponsors and players, to serve Olivares’ unexpired term.

Randy Villanueva and Buddy Andrada (Manila Bulletin)

Randy Villanueva and Buddy Andrada
(Manila Bulletin)

Villanueva, 41, was given a vote of confidence during a tennis summit he called about two weeks ago during which a master plan was discussed and then approved to raise the level of the sport in the country.

Having two players qualify for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 will be the main objective of the program.

But Villanueva’s position is being contested by former Philta president Salvador “Buddy” Andrada who claims to be the Philta president after reportedly being chosen by the association’s board of trustees, a 12-man committee which has served as the de facto poll body with sole power to elect Philta officials.

Andrada, 81, was president of Philta from 1986-2006. He also served as commissioner of the Philippine Sports Commission the past six years ending only when Rodrigo Duterte became president and appointed a new set of PSC officers.

Haggerty is expected to confer with Villanueva and Andrada during his visit scheduled Sept. 27 and 28. During his visit, Haggerty may decide which of the two factions the ITF will be recognized as head of the association.

Villanueva said he has presented his position and that of the stakeholders to Haggerty and said he is leaving it to the ITF to make the final decision.

Andrada, who is in frail health, is reportedly being backed by the Philippine Olympic Committee because he is expected to bend to the wishes of the current POC leadership, all of whom are seeking reelection, including Jose “Peping” Cojuangco Jr., who is running for a third four-year term as president in November.

Sources say Andrada is being used to make sure the Philta vote goes to Cojuangco although Cojuangco, 82, head of the practically dormant Philippine Equestrian Association, has no rival at the moment.

But the ITF, after hearing both sides, will have the final say on who will be the head of the Philta. International sports federations usually are more powerful than Olympic committees and can tell committees, such as the POC, whom to recognize.

Andrada was not available for comment when contacted yesterday although Romeo Magat, speaking for the retired colonel, said “Andrada is recognized by the POC.”