After playing stellar roles in Cambodia’s dream Davis Cup debut in Doha last month, singles pivot Mam Panhara and his brother Vetu are heading back to their Oregon home in the United States tomorrow.
More than a week after their return to Phnom Penh from Qatar, where Cambodia earned promotion to Asia Oceania Group III next year, the siblings are preparing to bid farewell to the tennis community here.
A warm reception from family members and friends awaits them when they touch down in Oregon, where both have enjoyed great success in college tennis.
The brothers can also expect an equally emotional send off from a host of admirers in the Kingdom.
They both admitted their winning moments in Doha would remain with them forever as one of the greatest one-week periods in their tennis lives.
“Our Mission to Doha is indeed a game changer for Cambodian tennis and in many ways it has also changed our own paths in life. We strongly feel that bonding with Cambodia, we are proud to belong to and so privileged to serve,” said Mam Panhara, who like Bun Kenny remained unbeaten in all the five singles rubbers he played during the Davis Cup week.
“It was indeed great team work. Tep Rithivit as non-playing captain was a one-man inspirational force. Braen Aneiros was outstanding as the team coach and Kenny poured his heart out and played at a high we had not seen before,” added Panhara. “We both are going back to teaching, but tennis will remain our main focus.”
Rich compliments for Panhara came in from coach Aneiros.
“Panhara gave us a splendid start in each one of those five ties by giving us that 1-0 advantage, which took a load off Kenny following on,” said the coach.
“If you look at his score-lines, they are all straight set wins, but in some of those he had hard battles and he stayed right on top of them. He was as determined as he was tough through the week considering that he didn’t have much match play behind him in the months before.
“Looking at the future, I feel that the brothers could form a good doubles team given more match play experience. Ideally one of them can also partner Kenny,” added Ameiros.
Non-playing captain and Tennis Federation of Cambodia Secretary General Tep Rithivit also lauded the pair’s performances in Doha.
“The Mam brothers perfectly fitted into our scheme of things. Their contributions were invaluable. They will keep riding with us,” he said.
Unlike Panhara, who played a lead role, Mam Vetu was restricted to doubles, which he seemingly revelled in.
“I was quite happy to chip in for the team when they wanted me to. My brother and Kenny were sweeping the ties and we had little to worry with the doubles,” Vetu told the Post.
The Mam brothers will almost certainly be back in Phnom Penh this November when the TFC hosts three back-to-back ITF Men’s Futures.
To contact the reporter on this story: H S Manjunath at firstname.lastname@example.org