Thinley Namgay      

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) upgraded Bhutan Tennis Federation (BTF) from the class C to class B1 member during the ITF’s annual general meeting held in Madrid, Spain, on December 4.  

The voting was held among 206 national tennis federations under the ITF to determine whether BTF is eligible for full membership. However, BTF received 74.01 percent of votes in favour of its membership. 

BTF General Secretary, Tshering Namgay, said: “It took us a few years to process for this achievement. Till now, BTF was just an associate member or C class.” 

“With the full membership status, the support from the ITF would be more, and we can enhance tennis activities, infrastructure and coaches’ development,” he said. 

“Anything ITF earn, one share will come to Bhutan hereafter. Bhutan also has to pay more subscription fees to the ITF, but we can get back that through the rebate programme,” Tshering Namgay said.    

Tshering Namgay said that ITF looks into criteria such as infrastructure, total players, and coaches to ensure full membership.  

He added that Bhutan has about 28 tennis courts with 3,500 players, excluding the school development programme. There are over 20 level one coaches.  

BTF’s full membership status came back two years after the recognition by the ITF and the Asian Tennis Federation during the ATF’s annual general meeting held last month in Bangalore, India, for the development of sports and other activities in the country. 

BTF focuses on squad training, competitions between schools from different dzongkhags, coaching camps, a mini tennis tournament, and a junior tennis tournament. 

Its other programmes include an Olympic solidarity level one coaching, India-Bhutan friendship tennis tournament and Gyalsey Jigme Namgyel national open tennis tournament. 

With a budget of Nu 6 million, BTF completed major resurfacing work on four courts at the National Tennis Centre in Thimphu this year.   

Tennis is one of the few games introduced in Bhutan in the 1970s. BTF was constituted in 1983.