The second leg of the on-going ITF Futures series beginning at the National Training Center today will be a weeklong commemoration of the life and times of Cambodian tennis legend late Tep Khunnah as his 20th Memorial event.
Heralded as the Father of Cambodian tennis, Tep Khunnah presided over the golden era of the 1960s as a classy player, astute leader and selfless mentor. He spent the twilight of his life in Canada after leaving the Kingdom before the Khmer Rouge take over.
Legend has it that the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk was a great fan of Tep Khunnah and paid regular visits to Le Circle Sportif, a site now occupied by the US Embassy, to watch the maestro in action on court.
“It is a rare honour to have our company’s name next to an extraordinary tennis personality like Tep Khunnah,” Mitsuji Konoshita, president of GL Finance, the main sponsors of all three legs of the Futures, said.
Recalling his playing days as an youngster under his father’s tutelage, Tep Rithivit, the secretary-general of Tennis Cambodia, said: “There were no conversations without tennis at our dining table when my father was around. It was tennis and nothing but tennis all his life. This is an emotional week for me and my family. His legacy will forever remain in our collective consciousness.”
Meanwhile, Davis Cupper Long Samneang is the only local player to get a wild card into the main draw for the second week. Four other Cambodians failed in qualifiers.
Davis Cupper Phalkun Mam went down 2-6, 5-7 to ninth seeded Nicolas Ferrando of Argentina, Doeum Socheaphearun was beaten 2-6, 3-6 by top-seeded Ken Onoda of Japan, American-Cambodian Vidith Huot lost to Jeson Patrombon of the Philippines 3-6, 2-6 and Our Sarith was defeated by Soichiro Moritani of Japan 1-6, 1-6.
Yannick Jankovits of France has added an exciting dimension to the main draw. He will go out as the top seed for the week pushing Liang Chi Huang of Chinese Taipei to the second spot.
Jankovits will meet Kelsey Stevenson of Canada who came through the qualifying rounds to make the main draw. Long Samneang has been drawn to meet Huang in the first round.