Cambodia’s top ranked player Bun Kenny overcame months of frustrating narrow misses to finally earn his first precious ATP point yesterday. Bun Kenny also gained a base world ranking when he defeated Laotian wild card Vitaya Lasavady 6-1, 6-1 in the first round of the US$10,000 ITF Men’s Circuit Futures tennis event in Vientiane yesterday.
The Battambang-born 20-year-old, who had spent most of his formative years in France before returning to the Kingdom early this year to beef up the Tennis Federation of Cambodia, is only the second local player after double SEA Games bronze medalist Tan Nysan to get an ATP ranking.
“It is a great moment for all of us,” said TFC Secretary General Tep Rithivit yesterday. “We never had two players with ATP rankings before. We have been waiting for this good news for months now, and it sets Bun Kenny’s career on a whole new path.”
Senior Commerce Minister and TFC President Cham Prasidh said the Federation was “walking into history” after yesterday’s breakthrough.
National tennis coach Braen Aneiros, who was courtside in Vientiane, also gave credit to the Kingdom’s No 1 ranked player. “[Bun Kenny] stayed well focused and weeks of tough conditioning regimen really stood by him in this event. We really hope he can build on it,” he said.
The recent winner of the 2010 Cambodian Open found the going to his liking in the first round of the qualifiers over the weekend when he took on Thailand’s Grittaboon Prahmanee. After staying solid on his baseline play, Kenny took the first set for the loss of just one game and never slackened his grip on the second set after an early break to emerge a 6-1, 6-3 winner.
In the second round of the qualifiers, he was pitted against a tough South Korean rival in Seong Hyeon Im, who had the pace and the skill to slug it out from the baseline. Kenny’s consistency on ground strokes and his overall court coverage stood him in good stead when it came to the crunch in a tight first set. With the first set in the bag, Kenny ran into rough weather when the Korean took a 4-2 lead, but the Cambodian rallied back by winning four games in a row to wrap up the contest in just under two hours.