GEORGE TOWN: Underprivileged children in Penang can now learn to play tennis for free from qualified coaches with International Tennis Federation (ITF) Level 2 Certification and assisted by a group of senior and experienced coaches.
Proace Tennis Academy founder and head coach K. Manimaran, 56, told theSun the entire training programme would take six months to complete, and is open to children aged seven to 14.
“Tennis, like many other sports, is not just about the sport. It is about character building and integrating life’s lessons such as discipline, integrity and ethics into the sport.
“In the past two years, we have had students participating in Penang School Sports Council and Malaysian School Sports Council events, with a few medals won,” he said, adding that the academy operates from two tennis courts at the St Xavier’s Institution at Lebuh Farquhar.
Last year, sisters Agasini Chandramogan, 18, and Agilasini, 17, represented their respective schools in state events.
Agasini went on to represent Penang at the national level. Currently, she is taking her SPM exams at SMK Tunku Puan Habsah, while Agilasini is attending SMK Convent Green Lane.
“We have about 200 children who have registered with us since our programme started in 2018. However, this is the first time we are getting funded by the Malaysian Indian Transformation Unit.
“Previously, we were running the programme through public funds,” said Manimaran, who was a state tennis player in the 80s.
“At the moment, we have more boys than girls, and we hope to get more girls interested in pursuing tennis as a career.
“We hope to produce talented tennis players who will excel and represent our country at major tournaments overseas. With proper training, these students can also participate in international workshops and tennis clinics by professional tennis players.
“We also have 15 to 20 participants from Ramakrishna Ashrama, and some students even travel from as far as Juru and Kepala Batas.”
Ramakrishna Ashrama is an orphanage and Tamil school for Indian children and youths aged between six and 20.
Manimaran established Proace Tennis Academy in April 2018 with hopes of enhancing the lives of underprivileged children.
“It will be my dream come true if one of our students secures a college or university tennis scholarship for further studies overseas. In fact, some tennis scholarships cover up to 100% of the costs.
“Years back, a good friend of mine Datuk Dhinagaran Jayabalan sponsored me with equipment such as rackets and tennis balls to start the programme. Later, former deputy minister of Law and Institutional Reforms Ramkarpal Singh became our patron and continued to help us financially,” he said.
Classes for the current batch commenced on Jan 22 and will run until July 22, with coaching held on Saturdays from 5pm to 6.30pm. Each coach will be responsible for eight to 10 students, and equipment will be provided. For more information, contact Manimaran at 012-498 9115.