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Asian Tennis Federation looks to serve up youth tennis

Asian Tennis Federation looks to serve up youth tennis

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Secretary-general of the Tennis Federation of Cambodia Tep Rithivit (second from left) seen with representatives from South East Asian tennis nations after a meeting with Asian Tennis Federation President Anil Khanna (fourth from left) in Nonthaburi, Thailand. Photograph: supplied

Secretary-general of the Tennis Federation of Cambodia Tep Rithivit (second from left) seen with representatives from South East Asian tennis nations after a meeting with Asian Tennis Federation President Anil Khanna (fourth from left) in Nonthaburi, Thailand. Photograph: supplied

The Asian Tennis Federation (ATF) has outlined several developmental projects in the next few years to boost junior tennis in Asia including the introduction in 2013 of an Under 16 Asian Tour for ITF events and the creation of an Under 18 regional team championship.

The ATF President Anil Khanna has also announced special grants to the Tennis Federation of Cambodia (TFC) and Lao Tennis Federation (LTF) for conducting Asian Under 14 Series non-hospitality events this year.

The head of Asian tennis was all praise for Cambodia’s stunning success in its Davis Cup debut at Doha earlier this year, singling out TFC as a shining example for others to follow.

Chairing a meeting recently with representatives from Southeast Asian Tennis nations at the Asian Tennis Centre (ATC) in Nonthaburi, Thailand, Anil Khanna forcefully argued that time was ripe for a massive reorganisation of Asian tennis, suggesting that an European model of administration would be an ideal one to follow.

The Nonthaburi Caucus was attended by among others the secretary-general of the TFC, Tep Rithivit, vice president of the LTF Tui Somphol, secretary of the Lawn Tennis Association of Malaysia, Ibrahim Abubakar, director of Lawn Tennis Association of Thailand, Sithiphat Dhanasobhon, the secretary-general of the ATF, Suresh Subramaniam, executive director of ATC, Pichai Pentrakul, and executive director of ATF, RM Sharma.

The ATF chief also had separate meetings with three other representatives from South East Asia – Martina Widjaja (Indonesia), Ajay Pathak (Philippines) and Gilbert Mui Soon Ng (Singapore).

“The meeting was a frank, candid look at Asian Tennis and Cambodia would lose no opportunity to be an active participant in the development of tennis as a responsible member of the community,” the TFC secretary-general Tep Rithivit told the Post.

Some of ATF’s new initiatives include the revival of Asian Championship, strengthening and expansion of the Asian Under 14 series, making ITF Junior events in Asia part of an exclusive Asian Tour and holding an Asian Under 18 Team championship, along with putting the ATC to greater use for junior programs.

The ATC intends to turn its well-equipped Nonthaburi facility as a central hub that all Asian nations could make use of. Settting up of training camps for developing nations has been given top priority. The ATF will be providing free boarding, lodging and training for eight players per nation with federations defraying only the travel expenses. Eight nations would be invited this year to train for two weeks at the ATC.

The first of the four such camps concluded last week with the second starting on August 13. The third and the fourth camps begin on August 27 and November 19 respectively.

A special high performance evaluation camp for Asian players in the 13 to 17 age group will start from November 15.

After a gap of four years, the Asian Championship has been revived. Bangkok will stage the event from December 1 to 8 this year.

The ATF is also in the process of procuring wild cards for the Asian Championship winners in the Australian Open and ATP/WTA events in Asia. There is also a likelihood of this championship being thrown open to players from the Pacific-Oceania region. S Uthrapathy of Singapore has been appointed as the tournament director.

The ATF will organise a professional circuit in Asia comprising tournaments offering upwards of US$5,000 prize money.

India has offered to host the inaugural Asian Under 18 Team championship, which will be unveiled in 2013 as an annual event on the ATF calendar.

To contact the reporter on this story: H S Manjunath at [email protected]

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