T&T is getting ever closer to having an International Tennis Federation (ITF) Centre, Hayden Mitchell, president of tennis has revealed.

The facility will make this country the hub for the sport in the Central American and Caribbean region (COTECC) and will be a major driver for sports tourism, diversification and overall development of the sport from the grass-root level to professionalism.

Since the inception of Mitchell as tennisTT boss a few years ago, the sport locally has been the beneficiary of a major upgrade that includes improving the skill sets of officials, coaches and players, as well as having more tournaments.

Yesterday, Mitchell, who has been elevated on the Board of the COTECC from the position of sub- Region 4 president to Director recently, said his organisation had been putting together final touches on a proposal to submit to Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs Shamfa Cudjoe and other ministry officials to access funding.

The document is a recommendation of a structure given by the world governing body for the sport on what is required for the centre to be introduced here at the National Racquet Centre (NRC) in Orange Groove, Tacarigua.

The document is set to be handed over to ministry officials by August, in time for a visit of an ITF consultant here in September.

Mitchell said the consultant would conduct checks of the facility and all other programmes to ensure that the recommendations of the ITF will be followed.

According to the tennisTT boss, with the ITF structure in place, it would afford the country more international tournaments, enable players in the COTECC region easier access to international points that will improve their rankings, and create an easier passage for COTECC players to compete at the ITF major tournaments such as the Grand Slam.

Mitchell said his organisation was currently positioning itself to capitalise on a new transition- tour programme being embarked upon by the ITF, saying: “This will help young players like Aidan Carter and other junior players in T&T moving to the senior level. So when you do well, you will earn valuable points that will enable you wild-cards into main international tournaments,” Mitchell explained.

Meanwhile, with Mitchell being elevated to the position of director in the COTECC, another tennis official Jermille Danclar, secretary of tennis has taken his sport as president of subregion 4.

Mitchell said this new development would augur well for T&T as it would have more say in the direction the cotecc wants to go in the future.