The Tennis Federation of Cambodia has added another novelty to the smoothly running grassroots programme by setting up camp sites for players from provinces visiting Phnom Penh as part of its attempt to drive to teach life skills along with tennis lessons.
Phnom Penh players taking part in national tournaments in other provinces will also go through similar camping experiences so that all players are well prepared to cope with challenges that tennis travel often throws up.
The camping idea was born out of accommodation issues that up to a dozen players from Kep faced during last week’s national junior tournament, and it quickly turned into a popular reality when they got under the tents put up on the lawns close to the tennis courts at the National Training Centre.
The TFC purchased four tents and nicely padded bedding, and arranged food for the visitors.
“The idea of tennis camps and camping right next to the tennis courts is to get all the kids together. They eat, sleep and wake up to tennis courts in the morning and that oneness has lot of advantages on and off the court,” TFC’s head of schools and junior tennis initiatives and Cambodian Davis Cupper Mam Phalkun told the Post yesterday. TFC Secretary General Tep Rithivit noted that “a lot of thought” had gone into the activity. “We realised that players would most certainly bond better this way,” he said. “[The] TFC has always believed in the notion that tennis builds life skills like no other. I am very happy that the players enjoyed these camps and felt very comfortable.”
Horn Vannak from Acadamie de Kep was one of the campers and he spoke for the rest of his tent friends when he said: “We loved every minute of our stay. We had lot of fun and we sure want more.”
But one player who sneaked into one of these camps was Khlang Ponlok, who made it to the semi-finals of the Boys U14 singles.
Ponlok lives in Phnom Penh but he chose to stay with his Kep friends.
Asked by the Post as to why, Ponlok said: “It is so easy and so good. I don’t have to go all the way home and come back. In the morning I can play tennis right away.”
It is this thought of being next to a tennis court and the overwhelming desire to get on with the game that is what has endeared these campers to the tents, albeit in middle of nowhere. For them it is somewhere they love to be all the time, closest to a well-marked court.