Cambodia's Bun Kenny dives for a backhand shot during his ITF Cambodia NagaWorld Futures men's singles match this morning against Julien Demois of France at the National Training Centre. Photograph: Sreng Meng Srun/Phnom Penh Post
Cambodian hopefuls Bun Kenny and Mam Phalkun fell at the first hurdle on the opening day of the $10,000 ITF Cambodia NagaWorld Futures tennis championship at the National Training Centre today.
French left-hander Julien Demois, mixing solid ground strokes with cleverly disguised drop volleys and slices, overpowered Cambodia's top player Bun Kenny 6-4, 6-1.
Trouble for the Cambodian Davis Cup pivot began as early as the sixth game when he lapsed into a series of unforced errors.
Kenny managed to wriggle out of that tight spot only to find himself at the deep end once again in the ninth game.
Serving at 4-5, Kenny had three points to level the match in the opening set, but Demois first drove the game to deuce and then turned the game around with a stunning drop volley and a double-handed backhand down the line to seal the break.
The 22-year-old Cambodian right-hander, ranked 1,192nd to the Frenchman's 760th, then blew two break-point opportunities to surrender the set. Demois’s double-fisted backhands constantly kept Kenny on to the back foot in the second set as he firmly took control and rolled over his rival for a quick wrap-up.
''The Frenchman was very consistent and solid on his ground strokes. I feel Kenny should have been a lot more aggressive,” Cambodia national team coach Braen Aneiros told the Post.
Meanwhile, Mam Phalkun, out of competitive tennis for more than two years, found the going real tough against Vietnam’s top-ranked player, Minh Quan Do, in a 6-2, 6-0 defeat.
Appearing in his first Futures, the 27-year-old Phalkun, the eldest of three US-based tennis-playing Mam brothers, began on a confident note in the first set but progressively lost his step as the Vietnamese visitor began to open up the court.
“He may not have been ready for this level of tennis yet. He had trained hard, but he was clearly outpaced,” added Aneiros.
Minh Quan Do, who ousted Cambodia’s Tan Nysan in the first round of the $15,000 Futures in Phnom Penh last year, continually capitalized on the countless errors that flowed from Phalkun.
In other matches playing today, Mick Santiago of the United States, who spent nearly a week training with the Cambodian players, sailed through his first round 6-1, 6-2 against Mick Lescure of France.
The American was consistent and too wily for his French opponent in a contest that was settled in less than an hour.
On Court 3, the battle between Uzbekistan’s Sergey Shipilov and Yang Lu of China produced plenty of drama and competitive tennis with the first two sets split in contrasting fashions.
The Uzbek was on level terms with Yang in an opening set of fluctuating fortunes before the Chinese national took charge. Shipilov then turned on the heat in the second to level the match.
The Uzbekh ran up a 4-0 lead in the decider before Yang, feeling the effects of cramps, threw in the towel and retired from the contest giving his rival a 3-6, 6-1, 4-0 victory.
Israel’s Dekel Bar outlasted Matthieu Roy of France in a tense three setter 4-6, 6-4, 7-5, while third-seeded Axel Michon of France was too classy for Austin Karosi of the United States, winning convincingly 6-1, 6-1.
Kenny makes doubles advance
Cambodia's Bun Kenny had a reason to smile at the end of the day despite his loss in the morning.
He partnered another first round singles loser, Mick Lescure of France, and the pair made a winning advance in the men's doubles competition at the expense of Mam brothers Panhara and Phalkun. Kenny and Lescure ran out 6-2, 6-3 winners.
In other first round doubles matches, Ting Yu Chuang of Taipei and Yang Lu of China scored a punishing 6-1, 6-0 win over Roy Hobbs of Singapore and his Cambodian partner Long Samneang.
Marcus Daniel of New Zealand and Britain’s Richard Gabb registered a 6-3, 6-0 win over the Russian pair of Konstantin Gerlakh and Yan Sabanin.
To contact the reporter on this story: H S Manjunath at email@example.com