A compact taskforce working under the auspices of the Asian Tennis Federation has come up with a range of new proposals for key changes in the Asian 14-and-under circuit to bolster the development of players from the continent and ensure better incentives for them and their member nations.
In its Doha round of deliberations recently, the group, led by Tennis Cambodia secretary-general Tep Rithivit, who also heads the ATF Junior Committee, assessed in detail the existing circuit structure and recognised several areas where progressive steps were needed to create greater opportunities for the players in this crucial age group to compete with players from other regions where the circuit was much brighter and broader in scope.
The other members of the taskforce were Adil Burlibayev (ATF Junior Committee), Hyato Sakurai (East Asia), Slah Bramley (West Asia), Dias Doskarayev (Central Asia), Kitsombat Euammongkol (Southeast Asia and ATF member), Suresh Subramaniam (South Asia and ATF vice president), Jonathan Stubbs (ITF), Amir Borghei (ITF), Manpreet Khandari (ATF) and Dave Miley (ATF).
The group considered the holding of an Asian 14 and under closed championship in the coming months, in synch with similar events in Europe, South America, Africa, Central America, the Caribbean and Oceania, its top priority.
This first such event is slated for the week commencing September 17 in Bangkok, with a 48-player main draw in both the boys and girls events.
‘Best competitive environment’
Full hospitality will be provided for all visiting players and for one visiting coach per nation for the duration of the event, to be played in a unique feed-in/placement match format with every player guaranteed five singles matches, with points awarded based on the placings all the way down to the bottom, with the winner getting 1,200 points.
The acceptances will be based on a maximum of two boys and two girls from the top Asian nations and one boy and one girl from other countries.
A combination of Asian ranking and results in the 2018 World Junior Tennis and the Division 1 ITF Development Championships will be used to decide which nations have up to two players and which can have one.
Also included in the calendar for the rest of the year is a pilot Grade A event to be held in Malaysia during the week commencing September 23 on an identical feed in/placement format, with 32 boys and 32 girls in the main draw. A 16-draw qualifying will also be held.
“There will be exciting changes next year to make The circuit more effective. Categories will be simplified and will have three levels of tournament, and the young players from the continent will get the best competitive environment they have ever had,” taskforce leader Rithivit told The Post.
“The events that are being offered include the Asian Closed Championships, the ITF/ATF Division 1 championships the, and 14 and under Masters.”
Up to eight Grade A events will be lined up in 2019.
All Category 1 events will offer 1,200 points to the winner and will be played in good facilities with sufficient courts and in countries that have proven experience in staging higher level junior events. The tournaments will also be tightly controlled in terms of quality and visibility for the ATF and its sponsors.
Welcoming the new proposals to prop up the Asia 14 and under circuit, Tennis Cambodia’s head of Junior Development Phalkun Mam noted that the chance for countries trying hard to catch up with the strongest nations to send at least one player to these high quality events will be a major progressive step.
“We are glad our players will be able to make it to these events and enrich their skills and experience,” he said.