The Tennis Federation of Cambodia is stretching well beyond its financial means to honour its three-event ITF Men’s Futures package. The Lawn Tennis Association of Thailand has backed out of its commitment to host the third leg of the regional events in a fashion similar to the recent Vietnam flip-flop.
A terse email from the Thai association two days ago expressing its inability to stage the third leg during the second week of February came as a total shock to the TFC, forcing the federation to seek desperate alternatives. After considerable thought and hectic parleys with the officials of the International Tennis Federation, the TFC has now found the best possible way to salvage the situation.
The three-leg US$10,000 package will now be compressed into two $15,000 events, with the TFC hosting them both at the National Training Centre in Phnom Penh on the dates previously announced - the first leg on January 24-30, and the second from January 31 to February 6.
ITF Administrator for Beach Tennis & Professional tournaments, Alistair Williams sent an email to the TFC Secretary General Tep Rithivit late on Tuesday.
“Keeping your tournaments on the calendar and in the same weeks is our main priority, but with other nations in the region not able to commit to holding the third event at such short notice, increasing the prize money at your two tournaments is certainly the preferred alternative,” said Williams.
The tennis official felt that pushing the series back to March was an unfavourable option, noting that “holding just two rather than three tournaments means costs like officiating and event staff will remain the same.”
In the light of the prize fund being upgraded to $15,000 for each event, the ITF will provide an additional grant of $8,000. However, the added financial burden for the TFC will weigh very heavily on its coffers.
The two back-to-back tournaments are likely to cost up to $72,000, and even with financial support from corporate sponsors ANZ Royal Bank and Infinity Insurance as well as the ITF grants, the Federation is likely to face a massive shortfall.
“It is an historic opportunity we did not want to miss at any cost,” said Tep Rithivit.
“We are terribly disappointed with what happened regarding the third leg. We know we have to stretch our resources like elastic to meet the financial demands but this is the only way we could have achieved our twin aims of saving the Futures and sticking to the Calendar.”
The TFC is now working frantically to amend and submit two fact sheets – which outline the conduct of the tournaments – to the ITF, while launching their appeal for new sponsors.
“I am glad that the uncertainty has been removed. I hope the country’s business community and the corporate sector will step in to help us stage these historic events,” said Tep Rithivit.