Start of any calendar year is always the time; when Asian tennis players cutting across all zones in the continent, get a chance to participate in the ITF Asian Development 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 competition in the initial years as a player, have gone on to play the international professional circuit and represented 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 comprising of players from 14 Asian nations were represented in the event.
Participating teams were: Bangladesh; Bhutan; Cambodia; Lao; Macau; Mongolia; Myanmar; Nepal; Sri Lanka; Tajikistan; Turkmenistan & the ITF WA Team comprising Jordan, Syria & Lebanon.
The find of the 2017 Division 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 enroute to the title. His dominance 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 player from the West Asian team, Taym Alazmeh of Syria 6 4, 6 3.
In the Girls, it was to be Neyara Weerawansa of Sri Lanka, who captured the first week title with a comprehensive 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 second 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 second 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 Development Championships Division 2 event.
In a move which is sure to benefit the young Asian players playing across the continent, the ITF and ATF agreed to allocate Asian 14&Under Category 2 ranking points, to all players playing the Div 2 Championships. In a similar arrangement, players playing the ITF Division 1 Championships will be allocated Asian 14&Under Category 1 ranking points.