Thailand has stepped in to host the third and final leg of the ITF Men’s Asian Circuit Futures Tournament, which is part of Cambodia’s three tennis events package, after Vietnam backed out of its commitment at the last minute.
In all likelihood, the event will be staged in Bangkok from February 7 to 14 following the two Futures tourneys the Tennis Federation of Cambodia will be hosting back-to-back in Phnom Penh at their National Training Centre from January 24.
The ITF had offered the TFC a three-in-one Futures option three months ago, but the federation opted to keep two of those tournaments and pass one on to a neighbouring country.
Thailand, Laos and Malaysia were reluctant to jump in at the time and Vietnam, after initial hesitation, had accepted the offer.
But to the TFC’s chagrin, the Vietnam Tennis Federation announced a few days ago that they were pulling out, citing no particular reason for the sudden change of heart. While speculation centred around financial difficulties, the Vietnam tennis officials remained tightlipped as to what went wrong.
With time running out, the TFC had no option but to call in the world tennis governing body to sort things out. The Lawn Tennis association of Thailand responded favourably to the ITF’s appeal and agreed to fill the breach.
The ITF conveyed Thailand’s decision to the TFC yesterday, bringing to an end a week of “nervous expectation,” as the TFC Secretary General Tep Rithivit put it.
“On one hand, the TFC is happy that Thailand is stepping in to save the situation. On the other we are terribly disappointed that Vietnam could not hold the event,” said Tep Rithivit.
“There sure is some disruption here and there, but overall we feel relieved that the issue has been resolved. We can now concentrate on our end of the bargain.”
It remains unclear whether the ITF will pursue punitive action on Vietnam for this late withdrawal.