Tennis Cambodia’s long serving secretary-general Tep Rithivit, who was elected as a member of the board of directors of the Asian Tennis Federation last November, has been named as the chairman of the ATF Junior and Rankings Committee to oversee the development of the game among the younger generation across the continent.
“It is a big responsibility and an honour of a lifetime for me to get this opportunity to bring about significant development of tennis in Asia and work out programmes to produce players of calibre who can match the quality we see in other parts of the world, particularly in Europe,’’ Rithivit told The Post on his return yesterday after attending the ATF board of directors meeting in Qatar two days ago.
“The International Tennis Hall of Fame award Tennis Cambodia received last year was very significant for me, my family and the tennis community. But this faith the ATF has shown in me to head this panel is precious because I get to influence the next generation of players who can make Asia proud.”
“My top priority is to draw up a road map encompassing sponsorship to bridge the huge gap in skill levels among members nations in the world’s largest continent. The stronger have remained strong, and the medium and weaker tennis nations have fewer opportunities to move up the ladder,” the newly elected Junior Panel chairman added.
“The idea is to create a circuit where more competitions are regularly held among members nations on a graded basis which requires the modification of rankings. Once accomplished, I am confident the system will bring up players of quality and create a healthy and competitive environment all around.”
Commenting on the choice of Rithivit to head this most influential of panels in terms of junior development, ATF President Anil Khanna of India drew attention to “Tennis Cambodia’s impressive track record when it comes to the success of junior programmes”.
Chairman of the ATF Nasser Al Khelaifi expressed similar sentiments and pointed to the International Tennis Hall of Fame award as testimony to Tennis Cambodia’s success in grassroots expansion and junior development, in addition to the revival of the game in the Kingdom from near extinction after the Khmer Rouge regime.
Meanwhile, the ATF are to set up a new development office in Qatar as early as April this year, while continuing administrative operations out of India.
According to ATF Chairman Al Khelaifi, member nations will be able to draw resources from this developmental centre in areas such as infrastructure assistance, technical back-up and funding to create more opportunities for juniors from Asia to make their mark on the world scene.