Singles victories for Tep Timothy in the Junior Davis Cup and Hour Sreypov in the Junior Fed Cup in Colombo restored a modicum of pride for Cambodia yesterday after unproductive pool performances, even as the boys went down fighting to Iraq 1-2 and the girls were seen off by the same margin by Bahrain following a heartbreaking doubles loss in a super tie-break.
From the pressures of compressed group format, the bottom-bracket draw helped the Cambodian players open their shoulders, cut down on anxiety and stay more relaxed, yet focused, on the court.
This change was quite visible in the confident way Tep Timothy handled his singles match against Saber Ali, beating the Iraqi No1 6-4, 6-4 to level the score at 1-1 after Chheang Vannasith had gone down 2-6, 4-6 to San Gafur.
While Vannasith showed marked improvement from his performance against Turkmenistan, Tep Timothy went on to demonstrate that he had learned a few important lessons from the previous matches, the most vital one being to appreciate the value of staying in the point longer than his opponent.
Consistency was the key, and Timothy resisted the temptation of being too aggressive and maintained a steady hand to come out on top.But when it came to the crunch doubles, Timothy and Vannasith could hardly match the partnership of their Iraqi rivals Gafur and Saber, who reeled off a 6-1, 6-2 victory to clinch the tie for their country.
Away at the Gymkhana Club, Ho Sreynoch warmed up in the second set to put up a stiff fight, but by then Bahrain’s Redha Nazli was cashing in on the momentum to win the first singles rubber 6-1, 7-5.
But Hour Sreypov, staying solid behind the baseline and losing no opportunity to attack, was all over Maram Sharif in a 6-2, 6-0 rout.
With the tie delicately poised, the Cambodian girls took on Sharif and Nazli in what turned out to be a tense battle. The Bahrain pair took the first set 6-3, but Sreypov and Sreynoch bounced back with a tie-break win in the second set.
But in the super tie-break that followed, Sharif and Nazli proved too hard to crack.“The girls will play against Iraq, and the boys will take on Saudi Arabia.
Hopefully they can come up with a satisfactory ending to our first Junior Davis Cup and Junior Fed Cup mission,” non-playing captain and Tennis Cambodia’s head of junior development Phalkun Mam told the Post yesterday.
“The matchplay experiences for both teams have been invaluable, and I am confident it will stand them in good stead as we continue to build.”