Cambodian hire purchase and vehicle finance company Group Lease Finance has teamed up with Tennis Cambodia as the main sponsors of all three legs of the $10,000 ITF-Cambodian Futures events to be held in succession at the National Tennis Center (NTC) from next week.
GLF stepped in last year as sponsors of the second and third weeks of competition, and has now extended that support to the entire series.
Led by chairman Mitsuji Konoshita, a former Japanese tennis professional turned business magnate and well-known sports benefactor, GLF also co-sponsored Cambodia’s Davis Cup Asia Oceania Group III campaigns in Dubai last year and Iran four months ago, confirming its status as one of Tennis Cambodia’s prime partners.
The total GLF sponsorship package involving the three $10,000 events was announced at a media conference held yesterday morning at the Cambodian Country Club, which is adjacent to the NTC.
Prior business commitments and travel abroad prevented the GLF chairman from being present for the conference, but he deputied the company’s human resources and administration manager Yusuke Kozuma to address the members of the media.
There will be two days of qualifying rounds in each of the three weeks of competition before the 32-player main draw, which will be made up of 20 direct entries, eight qualifiers and four wildcards.
The first of three events has been branded as the GLF Open (November 16-22), followed by the GLF Cham Prasidh Open (November 22-29) and the GLF Tep Khunnah Open (November 29 to December 6).
Tennis Cambodia’s technical director and national team coach Braen Aneiros will be the tournament director, while Puneet Gupta of India has been named by the ITF as the tournament supervisor for the fourth year running.
Regarded the world over as a door to the soul of professional tennis, the ITF Futures was launched in Cambodia three years ago. The Kingdom has since grown in stature and popularity as a well-favoured destination among players from countries far and wide.
In keeping with its previous trends, players from 25 to 30 countries are expected to vie for recognition and precious ranking points in what will be a final push for many fringe players to make it to the qualifying stages of next January’s Australian Open.
The big stage is also set for Cambodian national players to be involved in events that are of truly international flavour, giving them the exposure and experience they so richly deserve. For the first time in three years, six Cambodian players will figure in either the qualifying rounds or the main draw as wildcard entries.
Besides Davis Cup members Bun Kenny, LongSamneang and Mam Phalkun Mam, joining the fray will be US-based Mam Vetu, who was a member of the 2012 Mission to Doha for the Asia Oceania Group IV debut but missed out on subsequent campaigns in Dubai and Tehran. He is now in Phnom Penh for his first shot at the Futures.
Of great significance is the lung-opening experience for two rookies, Our Sarith and Doeum Sounsochea Phearun, who have been training with the national team for some time.
In an exclusive communication with the Post, GLF chairman Mitsuji Konoshita said: “I am delighted to be a partner of Tennis Cambodia, which has taken the game to a level of excellence that seemed improbable five or six years ago. Our business philosophy is youth driven and it perfectly blends with that of Tennis Cambodia, which has done an outstanding job in reinventing and promoting the game countrywide.
“Cambodia is sitting on a wealth of youth potential and events like the Futures happening in their own country can inspire a whole lot of them,” added Konoshita, under whose astute leadership GLF registered a milestone 10,000th contract of the year as proof of its ever growing and influential presence in the country.
“GLF is proudly honoured to associate the second and third weeks of competition with two of the greatest tennis personalities in the country’s history. His Excellency Cham Prasidh continues to inspire Cambodian tennis with his vision and great leadership [as president of Tennis Cambodia], while the late Tep Khunnah – revered as the father of [Cambodian] tennis – will forever be the community’s guardian angel.”
Tennis Cambodia’s secretary general Tep Rithivit told the Post: “We are delighted to have GLF and Mr Mitsuji Konoshita on board again in such a huge measure for these very significant international events.
“Ever since GLF moved into our family fold, the bond between us has grown stronger and I am confident this enduring partnership will elevate tennis to new heights in the coming years. Great support like the one extended to us by GLF is what drives great success.”
Meanwhile, there are strong indications that the field for the opening week, the GLF Open, may be much weaker than the next two events.
The top-ranked player in the first week is slightly below the 400 mark, but players in the region of 260 to 300 are expected to show up for the GLF Cham Prasidh Open and the GLF Tep Khunnah Open.
Cambodia’s Davis Cup pivot Bun Kenny is keener than ever to grab his first ranking point on home turf.
The 24-year-old right hander, who has maintained a good record in Davis Cup matches over the last three campaigns, is eager to get back into the ranking list after this year’s noticeable slide.