The Cambodian Davis Cup tennis squad will have time until Wednesday to get a better sense of the red clay courts at Enghelab Sports Complex as well as Tehran’s climactic conditions, while this evening’s official draw will determine the two groups making up the 2014 Asia Oceania Group III series.
The six-member team landed in the Iranian capital on Friday after national coach Braen Aneiros had put players Bun Kenny, Mam Panhara, Mam Phalkun and Long Samneang through clay court simulation and physical workouts for a week at the Asian Tennis Centre in Bangkok.
That stint obviously helped the squad to be in better shape and spirit when they got to the sprawling playing arena in Tehran on Saturday morning and knocked about quite well on a surface the players had some reservations about.
The players are determined to make the last two days of training count when they line up for the first tie on Wednesday.
If Sunday’s practice matches are anything to go by, non-playing captain Tep Rithivit and coach Braen Aneiros have nothing much to worry about their players’ ability to handle the surface or the weather.
There were some reassuring signs in the way the Cambodian players performed in a friendly on Sunday against Pacific Oceania, who are in Tehran to contest the Group IV cycle.
Bun Kenny won his match untroubled, Mam Phalkum dealt with Pacific Oceania’s top player with great felicity and his brother Panhara ended up losing a close match. But overall, all three looked sharp and confident.
Since Pacific Oceania had only three players, Long Samneang battled with a young player from Kyrgyzstan, who are also Group IV contenders.
“It was a very good day for us on the court. The results did not matter much. But what we are happy about is the mental and physical shape our players are in. I think we are battle-ready,” Tep Rithivit told the Post yesterday.
“We don’t want to set our expectations too high. We know there are a couple of teams like Iran, Syria and Lebanon who have had Group II experience. We will take one tie at a time.
“The draw is important, but it is not all. There is no such thing in Davis Cup as an easy outing. Every rubber counts against every side,” added the captian.
In terms of the International Tennis Federation’s Davis Cup rankings, Cambodia at 88th are behind Malaysia (71st), Lebanon (78th), Iran (80th), Syria (84th) and United Arab Emirates (87th). The two other contenders in the group, Turkmenistan (96th) and Singapore (102nd) are promotees from the 2013 cycle.