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Asia needs its best players to compete in own tournaments: ATF President Yuriy Polskiy

New Delhi, May 8 (PTI) Determined to change the face of Asian tennis in his tenure, Yuriy Polskiy, the youngest ATF President, has exhorted the best players from the region to compete in Asian events before travelling abroad and has set his sights on developing the game in smaller tennis-playing nations such as Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Syria.

The 36-year-old Polskiy had won the Asian Tennis Federation (ATF) presidential elections in December last year on the back of reforms in his home country Kazakhstan and wants to use his trouble-shooting experience to help nations struggling to popularise the game.
Polskiy is clear that Asia’s strong players need to compete in their own events which should help upcoming players with exposure and learning, and a robust Asian tour and programme for U14 players with considerable financial support is the need of the hour.
He is also clear that ATF would work in tandem with ATP rather than competing with them and create a viable Asian tour with lots of tournaments in close vicinity that will reduce the travel expenses of players from the region.

Asia has only six players in the world’s top-100 and it worries Polskiy.

“Asian tennis needs the participation of the best Asian players in Asian tournaments, because, quite often, they go to Europe, they go to North America, South America and it means that the local Asian players don’t have a chance to compete with the best,” Polskiy told PTI in an interview.

“And to go to Europe, it’s very costly. So the ones who are good, they spend a lot of money, which can be redistributed, you know, in order to increase the base, like you will send not only the best ones to the tournaments, but the number two, three, four, because with the kids, you never know who will eventually be the best player.

“So, you need the competition inside the country, you need the competition inside of your region, and you need the high competition in Asia.” Polskiy understands that Asia is very strong in the eastern countries such as Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan, India, Thailand and Kazakhstan but the continent needs more tennis-playing nations.

“In recent years, Uzbekistan (grew), also Iran has a big history, and I feel that smaller nations like Iraq, Syria, Nepal, Myanmar, Timor-Leste and others, also deserve a chance, and they have big population.” Polskiy said they are now working with the Grand Slams, with ITF, in order to improve the quality of tournaments in Asia. The ATF President said the players will get incentives for playing in Asia.

“We (should) give extra incentives to good Asian players to play on Asian circuit. So they don’t spend their time competing for nothing, there is something meaningful they get, they get the ranking, they get the grants, there is an Asian team of the best players in each age category, so they can get in there and get extra support from ITF.” Asia’s highest-ranked player is world No. 17 Alexander Bublik from Kazakhstan. The next best is China’s Zhizhen Zhang (56) and is followed by Kazakhstan’s Alexander Shevchenko (60), Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka (80) and Taro Daniel (82) and India’s Sumit Nagal (93).

“We should do better in ATP and WTA rankings. And I see several challenges which we need to overcome in that regard. First of all, Asia is quite divided and many big nations like Japan, China, India, many players do not participate in international tournaments.

“They play a lot inside their countries, they compete with local players. But to some extent, it can work. But for 16 year old (players), it’s very difficult to stand the competition of countries located in Europe, where they compete with each other from a very young age.

“And in that regard, we do a lot of talking to nations, bringing new initiatives and hosting different tournaments. So everybody will come on board.” In the past, ATF had launched a closed-door circuit only for Asian players but it did not work. While it offered a lot of money to Asian players, absence of ATP ranking never allowed it to grow.

Polskiy said he won’t restart any such programme because he does not want to compete with ATP.

“I’m not sure that that concept can work now, because ITF is also trying to formalise the calendar of World Tennis Tour, and we don’t want to compete against each other. So, definitely, we’ll find a way how we can help each other instead of competing.

“But there are several projects in the pipeline, which are going to be directed to the Asian players only, like the Asian Championship, which is going to be played with the best Asian players participating, with a good prize-money fund, and with the Australia Open wildcard as the main prize to the winners.” Polskiy said he also wants to support officials from the Asian circuit, “where we will provide not international, but Asian certification.” The ATF President reasoned that Asia has five big regions and they need to develop tennis hubs there.

“Let’s say in East Asia, we see Hong Kong being a potential hub. So, players from China, Korea, Japan, Taiwan can come there and compete because it’s very cheap.

“The price of the tickets is small and everybody can speak English there. So it’s a good concept. We can do the same in the Southeast, South Asia, West Asia. And in Central Asia, we actually have it already.” “So it’s going to be three times cheaper and it’s a big achievement. Malaysia also wants to be a tennis hub, Thailand, India, like we have a lot of options and now we’re working with the nations.”

This report is auto-generated from PTI news service. ThePrint holds no responsibility for its content.

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