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Start of any calendar year is always the time; when Asian tennis players cutting across all zones in the con-tinent, get a chance to par-ticipate in the ITF Asian De-velopment Championships Div. 1 & Div. 2.
In a unique format which has been in place for more than 12 years now in the continent; players (in the under 14 category) from around 30 countries are invited to participate in two back to back ITF Asian Championship events.
Supported by the Grand Slam Development Fund (GSDF) initiative, many of the players who played this exciting format of competi-
tion in the initial years as a player, have gone on to play the international pro-fessional circuit and rep-resented their countries in the Davis Cup and Fed Cup events; while some others have gone on to become coaches, and are mentoring the younger generation of players, to compete in these events.
The ITF Asian Division 2 Championships 2017 were held in Bangkok, Thailand. 12 teams com-prising of players from 14 Asian nations were repre-sented in the event.
Participating teams were: Bangladesh; Bhutan; Cam-bodia; Lao; Macau; Mongolia; Myanmar; Nepal; Sri Lanka; Tajikistan; Turk-menistan & the ITF WA Team comprising Jordan, Syria & Lebanon.
The find of the 2017 Divi-sion 2 event undoubtedly was Abedallah Shelbayeh of Jordan who at thirteen years of age showed a lot of promise.
Abedallah won the first week of the event with comparative ease, without dropping a single set en-route to the title. His domi-nance was apparent, as he dropped only 13 (thirteen) games on the way to the winners spot.
In the finals of the first week, he beat another play-er from the West Asian team, Taym Alazmeh of Syr-ia 6 4, 6 3.
In the Girls, it was to be Ne-yara Weerawansa of Sri Lanka, who captured the first week title with a com-prehensive win over Maria Breidy of Lebanon 6 3, 6 1 in the finals.
In the second week, it was once again to be Abedallah Shelbayeh who took the winners tag, winning the finals of the event against Chathurya Nilaweera of Sri Lanka 6 3, 6 1. His final game loss count in the sec-ond week being 12 games.
In the Girls category for the second week; it was to be the turn of another Sri Lankan player Anjalika Kurera, to take the winners mantle. Anjalika beat Jana Khatib of Jordan 6 2, 3 6, 6 1 in the finals of the sec-ond week.
It was Jordan in the end which pipped the Sri Lankan team by a narrow margin, to take the country trophy in the 2017 edition of the ITF Asian Develop-ment Championships Divi-sion 2 event.
In a move which is sure to benefit the young Asian play-ers playing across the conti-nent, the ITF and ATF agreed to allocate Asian 14&Under Category 2 ranking points, to all players playing the Div 2 Championships. In a simi-lar arrangement, players playing the ITF Division 1 Championships will be allo-cated Asian 14&Under Cate-gory 1 ranking points.
The ITF Division 1 Champi-onships for 2017 was orga-nized a week later at New Delhis picturesque R. K Khanna Tennis Stadium.
The ITF / ATF selected a team of top performing play-ers, from Division 2 event, to participate in the Division 1 event in New Delhi compris-ing of players from Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Sri Lanka, Nepal & Mongolia.
Other teams participating in New Delhi were from Hong Kong; India; Indonesia; Ka-zakhstan; Kyrgyzstan; Philip-pines; South Korea; Thai-land; Uzbekistan & Malaysia.
It was to be the turn of Sandeep VM from India, to show case his talent, as he won the first week of ITF Di-vision 1 Championships with the loss of just one set.
Sandeep VM won against another Indian player Divesh Gehlot with a score line of 6 0, 6 4, to take the first weeks honors.
For the third spot, Nishant Dabas of India pipped the challenge of Hon Chun Lee of Hong Kong, who finished fourth in the first week of Division 1 event.
Domination of the Indian Boys was apparent, as all the top three spots were wrested by them.

In the Girls, it was to be the Indonesian player Priska Nugroho who would over-shadow the peers in her draw. Priska only dropped one set on her way to the ti-tle, beating Thamonpan Jonglertrakul of Thailand 6 0, 6 1.
Third and Fourth spot in the event went to Alexandra Eala of Philippines and Salakthip Ounmuang of Thailand re-spectively.
The second week of the event saw some tough com-petition once again.
This week it was Divesh Gahlots turn to grab the top honors at the expense of his team mate Nishant Dabas. Both the Indian Boys dis-played some great tennis as the finals match went down to the final set. Divesh triumphed 6 7(3), 6 3, 6 2 in the end.
The third spot of the event was taken by Sandeep VM of India as he beat G. Soon-tinun-Opart of Thailand 7 5, 6 1, with the Thai player fin-ishing fourth. Once again it was the three Indian boys who shared the top honors amongst themselves.
In the Girls category, Priska Nugroho of Indonesia once again came through to win the title with the loss of just one set in the entire week.
Priska this time pipped out Alexandra Eala from Philip-pines 6 2, 6 2 for the top honors. While the third spot was bagged by the Indian player Sarah Dev, fourth spot went to Salakthip Oun-muang of Thailand once again.
The action now shifts to the Pre Qualifying Events of the Asia Oceania World Junior Tennis Competition and the Junior Davis Cup / Junior Fed Cup events, and the host for this 2017 event would once again be New Delhis R. K Khanna Tennis Stadium.
Till very soon, here is the ATF Newsletter Desk Sign-ing Off.


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