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Cambodian Open hails triumphs in event finals

TFC president Cham Prasidh (centre) presents trophies to men’s A singles winner Bun Kenny (right) and runner-up Orn Sambath after their final yesterday at the National Training Centre. Photo by: SRENG MENG SRUN

IN A woefully one-sided final of the 2011 Cambodian Open elite men’s A singles event yesterday, top-seeded Bun Kenny toyed with his sparring partner and national team-mate Orn Sambath before winning the hour-long duel 6-2, 6-0 at the National Training Centre.

The 21-year-old, who has four ATP points and a world ranking of just over 1,000, was never seriously tested by his 17-year-old oppon-ent, whom he often undid by the pace generated on his ground strokes.

After hanging on to his two service games by a thin chord in the first set, Sambath could break neither Kenny’s rhythm nor his resolve, losing 10 games on the trot.

“It helped me improve my match fitness, though I had it easy all the way,” Bun Kenny told the Post after the match.

Orn Sambath, who had the consolation of winning the men’s doubles title in Bun Kenny’s company, said he knew the match would be tough.

“I could have done a lot better if I had cut down on my unforced errors. I have learnt a lot of lessons from this,” he said.

The Kenny-Sambath combine, eagerly looking forward to a good show at November’s SEA Games in Indonesia, shut out Thun Thola and Yi Kiavirak 6-3, 6-3 in the doubles final on Saturday.

Interestingly enough, top-seeded Thun Thola and unseeded Yi Kiavirak had crossed swords in the men’s B singles final before lining up for the doubles event, with Thola in irresistible form. Using the width of the court well by driving his rival short and long, the favourite quickly wrapped up a 6-2, 6-0 victory over Kiavirak.

Meanwhile, on Saturday, the more casual and fun-filled men’s C singles event was won in style by Chheang Sowann, who got the better of Lav Viotanak 6-4, 6-3 in the final.

The Junior U18 singles final saw Kan Sophon emerge the winner over Orn Sambath in a two-hour three-setter 6-4, 1-6, 6-0, the numbers concealing the intensity of the contest.

Orn Sambath had managed to level at 4-4 in the first set after being 2-4 down but lost the last two crucial games.

He then raised his level of play by a notch or two to completely outclass Kan Sophon in the second set, only to fall flat in the decider.

While one reputation was brought down, another was built in the boys’ U12 singles event. Top-seeded Tep Tim-othy, winner of five previous tournaments, suffered an  unexpected defeat at the hands of Cheng Rongreach, who raced away with the final 4-1, 4-0. Rongreach had proved a phenomenon in this division, winning all his three previous rounds without dropping a game.

Left-handed Sary Sodaney, meanwhile, came up short against Tie Heng May in the girls’ U12 final.

After a bundle of errors cost her a love set in the first, she showed positive signs of recovery in the second before the much taller Tie Heng May came into her own to scoop up a couple of crucial points and polish off the tie at 4-0, 5-4.

Tep Rithivit, secretary-general of the Tennis Federation of Cambodia, shared some encouraging statistics from this latest edition of the nat-ional tournament during his speech at yesterday’s closing ceremony.

“There were 236 matches in all, [which featured] 98 players including 15 foreigners and 10 girls. As many as 12 clubs were represented,” he said.

“But towering above all  these statistics was the presence of 14 kids from ASPECA, an orphanage in  Kep.

“This was an extraordinary trip for those kids and a great tennis experience, and this was easily one of the highlights of the Cambodian Open, which is now into its fifth year.”

Tep Rithivit also presented a memento to 66-year-old veteran Yi Sarun, who is  regarded as Cambodia’s oldest active tennis player.

In his address to the ass-embled audience after the presentation of trophies to the men’s A class finalists, TFC president and Minister of Commerce Cham Prasidh said the future of  Cambod-ian tennis was clearly in the hands of the young players,  and harnessing youth power would be one of the federat-ion’s top priorities.

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