Set beautifully in the plush green setting of the Palace Gate Hotel & Resort, just next to the Royal Palace, Tennis Cambodia acted as host for the Asian Development Meet 2019, which took place on Friday and Saturday in the Kingdom’s capital city.
The organising committee, the Asian Tennis Federation (ATF), set the meet in Cambodia as the Kingdom is considered the model federation in terms of developing tennis nations throughout all of Asia.
The countries attending included Afghanistan, Bahrain, Brunei, Laos, Macau, Maldives, Mongolia, Nepal, Oman, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Vietnam and of course Cambodia as the host.
Heading the team from the ATF were executive director Manpreet Khandari, executive director of operations Puneet Gupta, both from India, and the Asian 14 & Under Circuit development officer Dima Savchuk.
The meet began with a welcome dinner at the Mealea Restaurant for all the visiting nations, in the presence of Tennis Cambodia president Oknha Sear Rithy. In his welcome speech, Rithy spoke of his history as an avid student of martial arts including karate-do, and of the positive impact that sport can play in all our lives.
He concluded by saying that as new Tennis Cambodia president “I can see how our sport of tennis can benefit the lives of so many people, especially children . . . I hope all our [developing] nations can work together to lift the level of tennis in Asia”.
The meeting on Saturday began with a presentation by Tennis Cambodia technical director Mam Phalkun on the history of tennis in Cambodia and how the federation reached its present status, with a healthy International Tennis Federation (ITF) grassroots programme in place.
‘Story of rebirth’
He also highlighted the recognition of Tennis Cambodia’s achievements at the ITF’s annual general meeting in 2017 where Tennis Cambodia was the first recipient of the International Tennis Hall of Fame’s Global Organisation of Distinction Award.
Phalkun’s presentation ended with the surprise appearance of Khmer Rouge survivor Yi Sarun, the Kingdom’s No1 tennis player in the 1980s.
Sarun was greeted warmly by the entire delegation, who had just watched a CNN video during Phalkun’s presentation portraying the hardships he had to endure and his subsequent return to tennis.
Gupta’s presentation covered the ATF’s responsibilities in overseeing the sport in the 44 Asian nations and the purpose of the gathering for the region’s developing nations.
He listed the many resources and the support available from the ITF and the ATF.
Savchuk then came up for a quick presentation to speak about the Asian 14 & Under Circuit, and its importance as a precursor to moving on to the 18 & Under ITF Junior Circuit events.
Khandari ended the meeting by leaving the developing nations with action points they could implement.
She stressed the need for participating nations to be proactive, to use the resources available and to develop all aspects of the game of tennis in their respective countries.
Tennis Cambodia secretary-general Tep Rithivit also addressed the gathering and urged the developing nations to heed the advice of the ATF, explaining that the only way to help each other develop was to communicate and make sure their voices are heard.
“It is such a pleasure to be the host of an event as important, for multiple reasons, as the Asian Development Meet.
“The first being that it is the most opportune moment for the developing nations in attendance to hear our story of rebirth, to know our struggles and achievements, and to possibly take back to their own countries ideas of how to better their own federations.
“The ATF are displaying their care and support for the developing nations by organising such an event, and we are so happy that it took place in our home soil, as there is no better place to show them what we have done and who we are.
“I would also like to thank the Palace Gate Hotel & Resort for their warm hospitality and the beautiful setting they were able to offer during the meet, and also Devenco for coming in as an associate sponsor for the event.”