University tennis in Montenegro – challenges to come

Very shortly after 2006 and Montenegrin independence, Montenegrin Tennis Association became a part of the ITF family.  Since 2007, Davis Cup and Fed Cup team of Montenegro started to compete regularly.  Along with formal accepting of MTA to ITF, Students Sports Association of Montenegro having in mined their important role on one hand and visibility of tennis sport worldwide, started to organize yearly National University Tennis Championships (individual competition).

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2007 Davis Cup Team of Montenegro

A bit about organizational structure of the SSAM

The Students Sports Association of Montenegrowhich is the only official representative of students sports in Montenegro, has been recognized by the Minister for higher education and science, Montenegrin Olympic Committee and it is also member of the European and World’s University Sports Association (EUSA and FISU).

The most important sports events in which we have participated have been the Summer Univesiades in Bangkok (2007),  Belgrade (2009) and Shenzhen (2011). We also want to mention that our waterpolo team won the gold medal at the Summer Universiade in Bangkok, which is the first important medal Montenegro has conquered after its independence in 2006.

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Golden medal team from 2007 Summer Universiade in Bangkok

Each year we organize national championships in 3 university leagues: futsal (20 teams), basketball (12 teams) and Volleyball (8 teams). Next year we are going to organize for the first time Students cup in Handball (12 teams and Montenegro’s Students Championships in Karate, Athletics, Tennis, Cross, Table Tennis and many other sports events. About 10% of the total students’ population (1700 students) takes part in the competition or is involved in the organization of the up-mentioned championships.

Up to now we have organized three big international championships, namely: the European University Championship in Karate in 2007 (49 universities and 250 competitors), the European University Championship in Futsal in 2009 (16 teams) and the World University Championship in Karate in 2010 (46 countries with about 400 competitors and 100 officials).

For short time we have built strong organization in all levels, supported by Government, Montenegrin Olympic Committee, local authorities and sponsors.  For the next year all our attention is on two big projects, participation at Summer Univesiade in Kazan, Russia and organization of European University Tennis Championship in Bar.

Shortening long road

Competitions in the first three years went very silent based on participation and media attention. Supported by the results of individual tennis players from region and intense media coverage on one hand and development of new clubs and regular imports of tennis goods in Montenegro, from 2010 number of participants in competition went incredibly high. Initially from less than fifteen up to sixty or seventy participants (but with gender imbalance) didn’t come accidentally. Through period of maturing with tennis as a university sport with enormous support from tennis club AS from Podgorica, we organized numerous events in order to bring tennis to the majority of Montenegrin population with specific aim on youth and their informal education about various topics (healthy habits, participation in sports, anti-doping, sustainable development, environment, etc).

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National University Championship in tennis

Along with organization of tournaments, team from Montenegro regularly participated in EUSA and FISU competitions. In 2008, Students Sports Association of Montenegro organized an Invitational Montenegro Cup tournament where teams from England, Ireland and Scotland participated.

New challenge – new chance

In September 2013, Students Sports Association of Montenegro together with EUSA, with support from city of Bar, tennis club Bar, Bravera Sport and Montenegrin Tennis Association, organize European University Tennis Championship. As a prelude of event organization, our representative participated in technical meeting (EUSA Convention 2012) where were presented organizational procedure and accomplished segments and list to do. This was an opportunity to present Bar as a touristic potential and place to be next year.

The initial idea is to create nonconventional university competition which would include beside formal team competition and non formal team competition in essay writing and painting on three core Olympic values: friendship, excellence and respect. In a coming period Organizing Committee will select Special Commission to review and select the best ones.

Period to come

Having in mind that the consumption of participation into university tennis events is higher but with gender imbalance, the plan for Students Sports Association of Montenegro in 2013 is organization of monthly tennis clinics. Our goal is to attract females (junior and senior school year from high school and students) to participate into tennis program designed to make tennis closer for females and show opportunity to practice tennis regularly. At the same time, two (individual and team) events organize according to ITF and EUSA rules with aim to serve to the National Captain to elect best ones to compete at the European University Tennis Championship.

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Students coaching kids from orphanage “Mladost”, Bijela

Acknowledgments:

Special thanks to Mr Boris Sekulić, President of SSAM who contributed in the creation of this blog.

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