Charles Sarr Thomas honoured by the Gambia Tennis Association

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Veteran tennis star Charles Sarr Thomas has been honoured by the Gambia Tennis Association as the honorary president of the association in recognition of his outstanding achievements in tennis.

A press release sent to Pointsport recently by Phillip Akibogun, Secretary General of the Gambia Tennis Association (GTA), has it that Sarr, who spent at least 20 years as a tennis player, has been an integral part of the numerous successes registered by the GTA.

Below is the full text of the press release:

Mr Thomas has been considered for the honorary life presidency on the basis of his very long-standing and sterling contribution and achievements in the game of tennis and tennis development in the country.

His competition career has spanned at least 20 years having played as an international in 1962 ending an active competition in 1983. During his playing days, he also played in the international championships, particularly against Guinea Bissau and Sierra Leone, and in numerous national tournaments in singles as well as doubles matches.

It would be worth mentioning that outside The Gambia, Thomas has played in tournaments in America and England. Mr Thomas's contribution in tennis is not limited to playing tournaments and championships. His contribution has also been valuable in the coaching and administration of the game.

He has been a national coach, secretary and president of the national tennis association respectively for an overall period of at least another 20 years starting from his formal retirement as a national champion in 1983, up to 2003 when he retired also as president of the tennis association after serving in that capacity for eight years.

He played a key role in Gambia becoming a member of international tennis federation involving this country for the first time in statutory international meetings of that world body commencing in 1987 and The Gambia’s participation in African championships of the ITF, on a permanent annual basis with effect from 1989.

Under the ITF sponsored programmes, Mr Thomas was instrumental in establishing the STI, Schools Tennis Initiative in pilot schools in The Gambia. This programme has helped in acquisition and utilization of tennis equipment and materials in some Gambian schools and at the national association level and also in the organization of training courses for players, administrators and coaches.

Mr Thomas with full support of the Executive was successful in securing land in the Kombos for the construction of tennis courts and ancillary facilities for the development of the game in The Gambia. This initiative makes the tennis association the first sports association other than GFA to acquire and develop its own land.

This land, which is situated not far from the independence stadium, is under gradual development with the limited resources of the Association aided by the International Tennis Federation, ITF.

We want to take this opportunity to explain that the tennis association is still continuing to seek some financial contributions from the government, the private sector, and the general public, as the finished project is for the benefit and use of all Gambians, especially children of school-going age.

These entitles, with the exception of few private companies, are yet to be forthcoming with support.

Mr Thomas contributed immensely in the formulation and edition of the association’s first ever five-year development plan 2000-2004 which continues to be implemented in revised edition, and has served as a successful blueprint and basis for international funding and for the association’s annual action plans, complete with projected income and expenditure estimates and an architectural design of the proposed tennis centre for The Gambia.

Currently, Mr Thomas serves as adviser and immediate past president in our executive. This is the second time that this honour has been awarded. The first award went to the late president Mr B.O. Semega Janneh for his long distinguished and unparalleled tennis career as a long-standing champion in singles and doubles longest serving administrator and president.