Asian Tour to be launched in Delhi

The first tournament is scheduled to be held at the RK Khanna Stadium here from April 18. The attempt would be to have 40-odd tournaments this season and about 80 next year, with a projection of 100 by 2018.

ATF President Anil Khanna said that the ATT would provide wild cards to high performing young players into the Futures and Challenger events across Asia.   -  K. Gopinathan

Concerned about the Asian players managing to win a mere 20 per cent of the prize money from an overall purse of $17 million last year,the Asian Tennis Federation (ATF) has announced the Asian Tour restricted to the players of the continent.

There will be $5000 and $7,500 events, featuring only 16 players each, and a qualifying event of 16 players. The 16 main draw players will also get equal money from an additional allowance of $2000 for each event.

The first tournament is scheduled to be held at the RK Khanna Stadium here from April 18. The attempt would be to have 40-odd tournaments this season and about 80 next year, with a projection of 100 by 2018.

The women’s circuit is likely to be started in 2018 and the total tournaments for the Asian Tour is likely to be 150 from 2019.

Any player would be eligible to compete in these tournaments based on their national and international ranking system. Players will be registered for the circuit at $30 per year. Each tournament will have an ITF qualified white badge referee, while the linesmen and ball boys would be optional.

It has been projected that 65 per cent of the prize money from the ITF Futures are won by Asian players, and thus a relatively lesser event would supplement the income for the players. There will be no tax deduction, as the taxes would be borne by the organisers.

There will be two back to back events if it is a $5000 tournament and if a player wins both the events he will stand to gain $2050, as against $1224 for winning a $10,000 ITF Futures event.

Moreover, with the $10,000 events scheduled to be upgraded to $15,000 or better events from the next season, it is feared that many Asian countries may not be able to sustain their commitment to host international tournaments.

‘’The Asian Tennis Tour (ATT) has been created with the specific objective of enhancing opportunities for the young Asian tennis players, to fill up the void between the national and international professional circuits’’, said a statement from the ATF.

For the first season no sanction fee need be paid to the ATF for conducting these tournaments. Thailand, Srilanka, Iran, Philippines, Indonesia, Pakistan apart from India have already agreed to host 24 tournaments from April to August.

Interestingly, there will not be any ‘’live scoring’’ at these developmental events, keeping in view ‘’the recent instances where players and officials have been found to be vulnerable to inappropriate inducements’’.

The president of the ATF, Anil Khanna, stated that the ATT would provide wild cards to high performing young players into the Futures and Challenger events across Asia.

Moreover, the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) has agreed to take five of the highest performers from the circuit, one each for its five teams in Japan, Philippines, Singapore, India and Dubai.

Asia has about 520 ITF junior ranked players, and about 320 ATP ranked players. The new circuit is expected to benefit about 1250 players.

In an attempt to help the young players, four wild cards for the main draw will be awarded to the under-23 aged players.