After a successful five-year run, Tennis Cambodia has decided to drop the triple-leg $10,000 ITF Men’s Futures Series this year in favour of holding the Kingdom’s first ever Grade 5 ITF Junior Circuit event for boys and girls at the National Training Center, from October 24-29.
Since entering the ITF tour in 2011, Cambodia has emerged as one of the most popular pro-circuit stops in the region, which each year attracts better quality players.
Its unique timing between the third week of November and the first two weeks of December, as the last of the series to grab ranking points before the crucial Australian Open qualifiers, had also given the Cambodian series added significance.
While sponsor support for the Futures had been quite steady over the last five years, Tennis Cambodia’s shift of focus from men’s to juniors is seen as more strategic than driven by concerns over waning sponsorship interests.
“We took great pride in bringing the ITF men’s event to Cambodia before we had the honour of playing in the Davis Cup. Our organisational excellence, hospitality and spectacular tourism prospects have all added to Cambodia’s international appeal.
“But it is time for the reassessment of our priorities in terms of the game’s growth,” Tep Rithivit, secretary-general of Tennis Cambodia, said yesterday.
“The time has come to harness our young talent. The grassroots programs that we put in place years ago are beginning to bear fruit, and the only way to develop these talents is to create an international platform for our juniors,” he said. “Our long term vision is to create a pathway for these youngsters to step up to the national team.
“This creates a steady flow of good players and healthy progression to fill our national slots.
During the week-long event, seven Cambodian juniors are likely to be given wild cards for the qualifiers.
“Our senior players will be looked after like they have always been. We place great importance on our Davis Cup campaigns. But alongside this, we need to produce a good stock of juniors, some of whom can get world rankings and move up in the ladder,” Rithivit said.