With Cambodia’s Asia/Oceania Zone Group III Davis Cup campaign fast approaching, the Kingdom’s two neighbors Vietnam and Thailand hosting Group II first-round matches met with mixed luck over the weekend.
While Vietnam lost a hotly contested tie that ended 3-2 to Pakistan on the hard courts of the 198 Tennis Club in Da Lat city on Sunday, Thailand proved too strong for Hong Kong, winning their home tie 4-1 at the Thanyapura Sports and Leisure Club in Phuket.
Pakistan took the opening singles rubber with Aqeel Khan giving nothing away to Vietnam’s Quang-Huy Ngo in his supremely confident 6-0, 6-4, 6-3 win.
The home side, however, took this reverse in its stride as Hoang Thien Nguyen touched his best in fashioning a 6-3, 6-2, 6-0 win over Muhammad Abid 6-3, 6-2, 6-0.
After sharing opening day honours 1-1, the doubles rubber assumed added significance.
The Pakistani pair of Aqeel Khan and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi were seemingly coasting home after storming through the first two sets before the home crowd lifted the spirits of Quoc Khanh Le and Quano-Huy Ngo in the tense third set.
The Vietnamese duo did well to keep their nerves in the tie break to take the third set and keep their hopes alive. But the well-established Pakistani combo quickly got going in the fourth to wrap up the contest 6-1, 6-1, 6-7, 6-2.
Vietnam’s chances of survival hinged on the first of the two reverse singles but despite Hoang Thien Nguyen doing his best he simply could not keep up with Aqueel Khan’s consistency. Aqueel Khan won 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 to clinch the tie for Pakistan, who lost the dead fifth rubber when Yasir Khan went down to Trinh Linh Giang 6-7, 2-6.
Thailand’s young brigade rose to the occasion to ensure a convincing win for the country after losing the opening singles.
Hong Kong’s mainstay Phillip King gave the former English colony a sound start when he came through 6-2, 7-6, 6-3 against Nuttanon Kadchapanan.
Thailand drew level when Wishaya Trongcharoenchaikul, who took a couple of prized scalps during the Cambodian Futures series late last year, defeated Ognian Koley 6-4, 7-5, 7-5.
The Thai pair of Pruchya Isarow and Nuttanon blended well to down King and Chun Hun Wong 6-4, 6-2, 6-2.
Thailand’s passage to the second round was confirmed after Pruchya’s 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 win over King, even as the winners extended the margin by taking the fifth rubber reduced to best of three sets with Nuttanon beating Ognian Kolev 6-1, 2-6, 6-2.
Both Vietnam and Hong Kong were promoted from Group III to Group II in Dubai last year, where Cambodia finished fourth.