The second of three consecutive US$10,000 Chang ITF Pro Circuit Futures tournaments is underway at Thanyapura Sports and Leisure Club (TSLC) this week, as up-and-coming players duel for cash, ranking points and honours.
Continuing its drive to become an Asian powerhouse in both men’s and women’s tennis, the Phuket sports, health and wellness megaplex was this year allotted three of Thailand’s six ITF Futures events, supported by the Tourism Authority of Thailand.
The Futures series is the global third tier of professional men’s tennis that feeds into the Challenger series, which in turn is the feeder for the men’s professional tour.
The Chang ITF Futures F4 Phuket tournament concluded in a tense all-Dutch final played before a packed house of almost 600 on Saturday. Miliann Niesten (ranked 592 and the tournament’s eighth seed) edged out his more highly fancied compatriot Matwe Middelkopp (ranked 288 and seeded no. 2) with a score of 3:6, 6:3 and 6:4.
The contest was given added spice because the pair were the winners of Friday’s men’s doubles final. “It is my first time in Phuket and my first futures tennis event win,” said Miliann.
“Thanyapura has great facilities and the accommodation was very nice and quiet, so I really felt a sense of calm and focus in my games. Everything was absolutely professional about the tournament and I hope to be back for next year’s event.”
The Chang ITF Futures F5 Phuket event is already underway, and it will be followed by the Futures F6 Phuket tournament beginning November 10. Players at this level are able to enter all three competitions if they wish.
Brydan Klein, the world number 217 and top seed for all three tournaments, was back in action this week, as was young Thai sensation Kittiphong ‘Pong’ Wachiramanowong, rated as one of the best of the current crop of Thai youngsters aspiring to be the next Paradorn Srichapan.
Thanyapura President Robert Hauck said this ‘hat trick’ of men’s pro events followed the successful hosting of Thanyapura’s first Chang ITF men’s Futures event this time last year. “In March, we also had the US$25,000 Chang ITF Pro Circuit women’s event here. Both tournaments have cemented our place on the tour as key tournaments for those seeking to rise in the game.
“Now we look ahead to bigger things and we are well and truly capable of hosting more senior pro events too,” Mr Hauck said. “We’ve seen a real showcase of talent so far and I’m sure there’s plenty more to come. Young gun Kittiphong’s appearance in the tournament sent a real buzz around Thanyapura.”
Tourism Authority of Thailand Phuket Office Director Mr Chanchai Doungjit, said he was pleased to an array of international tennis talent in Phuket for the third time. “I am sure these players will leave with an impressive memory not only of the tournament, but also of some relaxing times, great food and warm culture,” he said.
Roger Cochrane, TSLC Tennis Academy Director, said there had been plenty of comments from the players about Thanyapura’s facilities, organisation and vision during the tournament. “It’s great to see the fantastic facilities and hospitality we have to offer here at Thanyapura being used and appreciated by this calibre of players,” the experienced coach and 2006 Peter Burwash International Professional of the Year said.