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Azar over Tennis Jamaica controversy

Published:Tuesday | April 23, 2019 | 12:00 AMLivingston Scott/Gleaner Writer

Tennis Jamaica presidential candidate John Azar says there is no bad blood between him and executive members of the current administration.

Azar battled the association in a court case for presidency in 2015 after allegations of overvoting and unfair electoral practices. On the contrary, Azar says he is more than willing to work with anyone who is interesting in helping the sport.

On November 19, 2015, Azar took the then John Bailey-led administration to court after he received 40 of the 77 eligible votes for the presidency at the aborted annual general meeting (AGM) that year. But while Tennis Jamaica accepted that Azar received 40 votes to Bailey’s 43, at the AGM, the controversy surrounding the legitimacy of the votes led Azar’s supporters to file to the court to declare him the winner. However, this did not materialise and he decided not to contest the revote after a rerun was ordered.

But Azar insisted that the past is the past and that he is looking to lead Tennis Jamaica into a new era.

“There is absolutely no motivation as it relates to that (2015 court case),” he told The Gleaner. “The motivation in 2015 was because of my passion for the game that I love, and my concern for the sport and where it was going.

Motivation remains the same

“My motivation in 2019 remains the same. What happened in the past election has no bearing on me putting myself forward to serve.

“My motivation is a concern for where the sport is going and the feeling that it doesn’t need to be that that way.”

Last week, incumbent Aswad Morgan withdrew from the race, leaving Azar as the only presidential candidate for the April 30 election.

But Azar insists that he will be relying on the expertise and assistance of current administration members such as Morgan and general secretary Leroy Brown who can still provide invaluable contribution to the development of tennis locally.

“The issues surrounding tennis are numerous,” he said. “Communication with members is poor, the lack of events or tournaments being hosted by the association is another concern, and the association speaks about not having funds to grow the sport or sponsor our national teams, but I don’t see enough effort being made.

I want to grow the sport and bring back participation and change the trajectory I see the sport going over the last few years. I want to ensure that the association is fair, transparent and inclusive in all its actions.”