RABAT, August 26, 2019 – Although Madagascar does not appear in the first pages of world tennis, the country is very passionate about the sport, such that its players relied on exclusive funding from their families to travel over 8000km and be part of the African Games in Rabat Morocco.
Tennis in Madagascar suffers from several anomalies: lack of local and international tournaments, lack of financial resources, lack of support from the concerned authorities, which put the future of this game in the Island nation in real danger.
“At home it is the families of the players who contribute with their money to improve the conditions of training given the lack of support from the Malagasy Tennis Federation. It is necessary to have more international tournaments in Madagascar and it is the responsibility of the federation. There is a big gap between North Africa and the other African regions except Southern Africa,” said Ary Junavich, head coach of the Madagascar tennis team.
This critical situation drives Malagasy talents far from the island, especially to France – due to the historical relationship between the two countries (Madagascar was colonized by France). But tennis lovers in Madagascar are doing their best constantly to make the sport survive in their country.
They always contribute money to ensure the payment of coaches, administrators of the Malagasy tennis clubs and other officials. Malagasy residents in France (140,000 people according to France Info Africa) contribute rackets, tennis balls, etc. The outcome of all the effort is, however, not impressive: there’s just a single Malagasy player in the ATP rankings, in 1610th place.
“There are good players, but they have to go to Europe. To go to Europe is very far, which has handicapped the progress of Madagascar players. There is a good generation, the future could be brighter if they find good coaching,” says Lucas Andriamasilalao, a current player of the Madagascar tennis team at the African Games Rabat 2019.
Despite all the obstacles, and the dysfunction of their local federation, the tennis team continues to fight for a better future.