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A new face for the Davis Cup team

Delton Sophana Kim (centre), his Paris coach Koupravida Abhay (left) along with nonplaying captain of the Davis Cup team Tep Rithivit
Delton Sophana Kim (centre), his Paris coach Koupravida Abhay (left) along with nonplaying captain of the Davis Cup team Tep Rithivit pose for a photo at the Olympic Stadium last week. Sreng Meng Srun

A new face for the Davis Cup team

Tennis Cambodia has recruited soon-to-be-16 French-born Delton Sophana Kim of Khmer parentage to its Davis Cup squad heading to Kuala Lumpur later this month for the Asia/Oceania Group III campaign.

The talented youngster, who ranks among the top dozen juniors in France, decided to switch his loyalty to Cambodia recently and has moved to Phnom Penh to pursue his tennis career.

In the event of Cambodia’s non- playing captain Tep Rithivit, who is also the secretary-general of Tennis Cambodia, nominating him to play either a live or a dead rubber in Malaysia, Delton Sophana Kim will have the distinction of being the youngest ever to play Davis Cup for the Kingdom. He will also be among the very few 15-year-olds who have represented their countries since it was made mandatory for players to be 14 and over to play in the Davis Cup.

The record for the youngest ever to play singles rests with Mousa Zayad, who in 2008 was 14 years and 41 days when he played for Qatar. However, Marco De Rossi of San Marino was 13 years and 319 days when he appeared for his country in 2011 before the new regulation came into force.

Sweden’s Mats Wilander at 16 years and 321 days was the youngest to play a live World Group singles rubber (quarterfinal vs Australia in 1981). The youngest to win a live World Group singles rubber was Michael Chang in 1989, playing for USA against Paraguay, in a first round tie at the age of 16 years and 347 days.

“Records apart, Delton Sophana Kim will change the dynamics by bolstering our second line. He is an exciting prospect and a very sound investment for the future,” Davis Cup captain Tep Rithivit told the Post. “For someone as young as him to make such a big decision in life and choose Cambodia is a bold and courageous move on his part and we will support him to the fullest possible extent,” he said.

Delton Sophana Kim’s personal coach of four years in France, Koupravida Abhay, accompanied his trainee all the way to Phnom Penh and stayed with him for a week before returning to Paris. The Laotian- born Abhay, who moved to Paris when he was very young and now runs an academy there, felt that his project with Delton was complete and it was time for his ward to find a new coach with different offerings.

“I admire Delton for making this courageous move. It is not only a tennis adventure for him but it is also a life adventure” Kouprovida Abhay told the Post recently.

Cambodia’s national coach Braen Aneiros said Delton Sophana Kim’s initiation to big time tennis has to be gradual and that he would not rush him but give time and space to settle down.

“I am thrilled to be here with my Cambodian teammates and I am eagerly looking forward to the trip to Kuala Lumpur for the Davis Cup and to Singapore for the SEA Games,” said Sophana Kim, who turns 16 this July.

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