Players making the quarterfinals of the on-going ITF Futures Championship for the GLF-Cham Prasidh Cup are in for a pleasant surprise and a welcome extra pay packet on top of official prize money.
President of Group Lease Finance, Mitsuji Konoshita, whose hire purchase company is the main sponsor of the remaining two back-to-back Futures events in Phnom Penh has announced a personal cash incentive of $500 each to players entering the last eight.
To the winner of this week’s tournament, the sports-loving Konoshita promises an additional $2,000 bonus.
It is interesting to note that the official prize money for the winner of a singles title in the Futures, which is at the bottom of the multi-layered ITF professional circuit, is just $1,300.
This cash courtesy from the Japanese businessman will also be extended to next week’s third ITF Futures for the GLF-Tep Khunnah Trophy.
“This is my personal support for players. Having been a professional tennis player myself, I know how hard it is at this level to keep going week in and week out from one country to the other,” Konoshita told a media conference at the Cambodia Country Club yesterday.
In an exclusive interview with the Post, Konoshita explained further his reasons for such a generous gesture.
“In my playing days on the road, I was always hard up with money, sharing a small room with my partner and struggling to make enough money to meet the expenses. In fact, I couldn’t make money at all so I turned to business and a successful one too,” he said.
“For over 15 years, our company has been supporting [Japan tennis player] Katshushi Fukuda – [since] right after he got out of his college. He has not gone to grand slams or play in high profile events, but he has brought cheer to thousands of people in Japan. My philosophy is to support good-hearted, passionate tennis players.”
When the news of Konoshita’s extra plump of cash reached the playing arena, there was a joyous response from almost every player.
“We have not come across an offer like this and it is really very kind of Mitsuji Konoshita to keep the concerns of the players in his heart and support them in this unusual but unique manner,” said Maximilian Neuchrist of Austria, who won the singles title of the first Futures event last week.
In a light hearted moment, Tennis Federation of Cambodia Secretary-General Tep Rithivit pointed out to the Austrian that his victory had come a week too early to have benefited from this extra cash but with his confidence running high, he could well make it up in the next two competitions.
To contact the reporter on this story: H S Manjunath at email@example.com