Cambodian underdog falls to Indonesia’s top player, ranked 680th
Indonesia’s top tennis player Christopher Rungkat, ranked 680 in the world, survived some scary moments in the first set to send unranked Cambodian Bun Kenny crashing out of the Malaysian leg of the Men’s Futures Tennis Tournament qualifiers Monday.
Rungkat, winner a fortnight ago of the Indonesian leg, clawed back from a break point down at 3-4 to emerge a 6-4, 6-3 winner after morning showers delayed the start.
Interestingly Rungkat and Kenny were training together at the newly built National Tennis Centre in Phnom Penh under Cambodian national coach Braen Aneiros, when the Indonesian No 1 came for a two-week stint recently. It was hardly a surprise that each seemed to know the other’s strength and weakness well enough.
The first six games of the first set stayed with serves. Bun Kenny had the first crack at Rungkat’s service in the eighth game. At break point, the Cambodian had what appeared to be a routine pass, but blew it and with it perhaps his only shot at the match. Kenny stayed on course for the second set till 3-3. Then, as coach Aneiros put it, ran out of legs.
“The scoreline, in a way, hides the tremendous fight that Kenny put up,” expressed Cuban-born Aneiros.
Earlier in the second round Sunday, Kenny overturned a first-set tie-break loss to post a sensational victory over South Korea’s Kim Hyun Seung, ranked 1,300th, in a thrilling three-setter that stretched to 2 hours 40 minutes under intense heat and humidity.
For the first 30 minutes covering five games, it looked as if Kim could do no wrong. He had just one unforced error to show for an excellent all court display. It wasn’t that Kenny was playing badly, but that Kim was playing well above himself. The Korean ran up a 4-0 lead and looked set for a first set wipe out, when Kenny found his rhythm and range to force himself back into the set. The Cambodian’s revival took him to 6-5 up, wherein Kim sought a time out for some treatment from his trainer.
That nearly 10-minute break did Kenny more harm than good, as the Korean forced a tie-break and wrapped it up for the loss of just one point.
However the tide firmly turned Kenny’s way in the next two sets as he broke Kim, who was visibly feeling the pinch, early and served his way out to a remarkable victory, which followed his bloodless first-round 6-1, 6-0 triumph against Ryoma Sloane of New Zealand.
While Bun Kenny’s showing in tough back-to-back Futures series is being hailed in the Kingdom as a big positive, Cambodian Junior tennis tasted another boost in Bangkok Monday when Cheng Chornay qualified for the main draw of an ITF U14 girls event as a lucky loser. Chornay’s first ITF ranking is well within her sights if she can pull off a win in her first round match.