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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Kondo, Klec KO Kim, Kenny

Cambodia’s Bun Kenny plays a backhand return during his first round Futures match
Cambodia’s Bun Kenny plays a backhand return during his first round Futures match yesterday against Slovakia’s Ivo Klec at the National Training Centre. Sreng Meng Srun

Kondo, Klec KO Kim, Kenny

Second seeded Hiroki Kondo of Japan rebounded from a first set deficit to wear down Dylan Seong Kwan Kim of South Korea 4-6, 6-0, 7-6 in the opening round of the Cambodian US$10,000 ITF Futures for the GLF Cham Prasidh Cup at the National Training Center yesterday.

Staying solid behind the baseline, the Korean capitalised on a few Kondo unforced errors to take the first set, only to find his Japanese rival fire back in the second. Kondo left nothing to chance as he steadied himself and blanked out Kim.

The decider was a touch-and-go affair, both missing out on chances to consolidate. Kondo played the critical points better than Kim in a tense tie-break to wrap up the longest match among the nine carded for the day.

In the day’s opening contest, Cambodian Davis Cup player Bun Kenny went down to Slovakia’s Ivo Klec, the seventh seed beating the wild card 6-3, 6-0.

At 3-3 in the first set, Klec stepped up his game considerably and was forcing Kenny to the corners of the court, eventually capping his consitency with a nine-game winning streak.

Sparks were flying all over Court 2 when the tall Wichaya Trongcharoeunchaikul lost the first set and turned his fiery temper on the poor racquet. But by the middle of the second set, he was a different player on court.

Once the emotive element disappeared, the promising Thai talent got the upper hand over eighth seeded Toshihide Matsui of Japan, polishing off a near two-hour battle at 5-7, 7-5, 6-4.

A surprise first round casualty was last week’s runner-up Gavin van Peperzeel of Australia, outplayed as he clearly was by Japan’s Soichiro Moritani.

Winner of Indian Futures at Raipur last week, Ramakumar Ramanathan reeled off the first four games of the first set against wild card Katsushi Fukuda. If the over six-footer (1.83m) thought Fukuda was done at that point, he had a shock in store.

The 37-year-old Fukuda made the Indian youngster stretch and strive for every point from then on. He took three games before surrendering the first set to Ramakumar and then kept the fight going for as long as he could in the second.

Ultimately, Ramakumar’s youthful energy got the measure of a progressively tiring Fukuda, the scoreline reading 6-3, 6-4.

Elsewhere, Alexander Zhurbin of Russia defeated Takuto Niki of Japan 7-6, 6-3, while Chie Fu Wang of Taiwan beat Catalin Inout Gard of Roumania 6-3, 6-3.

The top seeded Tsung Hua Yang of Taiwan, who was knocked out in the quarter-finals last week, opened his second week campaign with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Byung Kook Kang of South Korea.

In two other matches, third seed Robin Kern, winner of Cambodian F3 in 2012, ran out a 6-3, 6-4 winner over Bowen Quyang of China, while Soong Jae Cho of South Korea wrapped up a 6-4, 6-2 win over wild card Dineshkanthan Thangarajah of Sri Lanka.

GLF chief moots Academy idea
GL Finance Plc, Cambodia’s Davis Cup co-partners and main sponsors of the ongoing ITF Futures for the GLF Cham Prasidh Cup and next week’s GLF Tep Khunnah Trophy, is studying the feasibility of setting up an international tennis academy in the Kingdom.

GLF President Mitsuji Konoshita, who pursued a professional tennis career into his late 20s before plunging into the world of business, declared at a news conference yesterday that supporting the Tennis Federation of Cambodia to build a fully-fledged academy remained his most ardent wish.

“We continue to help the TFC but what I would like to see happen in Cambodia is an academy where youngsters can build their tennis careers without their education being affected, like the famous ones created by such legends as Harry Hopman and Nick Bolitieri,” he said.

“Under our group’s umbrella, we have these advanced tennis schools in Singapore, Thailand and Japan, and the chief co-ordinator of these projects is of the opinion that the coastal town of Kep could be an ideal location for such an academy,” added Konoshita. Turning to the Futures sponsorships for the second year running, the president said: “We are proudly honoured to associate our name with two of the greatest tennis personalities in Cambodia’s history.

“The President of the TFC, Cham Prasidh, continues to inspire Cambodian tennis with his great vision and leadership, while the late Tep Khunnah, regarded as the father of tennis [here], will forever be the community’s guiding light.”

TFC Secretary General Tep Rithivit said: “Ever since GLF moved into our TFC Fold, the bond between us has grown stronger and I am confident this enduring partnership will elevate tennis to new heights in the coming years.”

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