Bouncing back from a shaky start, Tep Timothy overcame Kep’s poster boy Sen Sophon 1-6, 6-2, 6-3 to win his first Boys U14 singles title this year in the fourth Junior Tennis Tournament at the National Training Center on Sunday even as Hour Srey Pov’s total dominance among the U14 girls continued unchallenged for the 10th tournament in a row.
Srey Pov, the wonder girl from Kandal province’s Boeung Khyang commune, has tasted nothing but success for well over a year and she was in her comfort zone right from the start as she stood like a wall in front of a hapless Sary Sodaney, who could only snatch one game as a poor consolation in a 6-0, 6-1 defeat.
It will be interesting to see if Srey Pov can keep her winning form going through the rest of the calendar year.
After coming through a tough three-setter against defending champion Klang Punlok in the semis, Tep Timothy was somewhat tentative in the first set of the final as Sen Sophon exploited the slew of errors flowing from the other side of the court.
But midway through the second set, Timothy had regained his composure, which helped him close it out fairly quickly.
The deciding set saw both players attacking the other at every opportunity, leading to some fierce exchanges. Timothy kept his nerve and played the pressure points better than Sen Sophon, who also had a tough time in the semifinals before slipping past Chheang Vannisith 6-4, 6-4.
Top-seed Chheang Vannasak was widely expected to take his third Boys U18 title this year but what came as a surprise was the stiff challenge he had to face from Sok Vichet in a final that went the full distance, 6-7, 7-5, 6-0.
In fact the title holder was seemingly in big trouble after losing the first set tie-break and lapsing into unforced errors in the second. Yet Vannasak managed to steady himself midway through the set and once he forced the match to the third set, it was obvious that Vichet had lost the momentum.
Not only did Vannasak find his rhythm in the decider but he also picked on Vichet’s backhand to dish out a love set.
The top tier of the Boys U12 event saw Leng Sarinreach back to his old touch against the much-fancied Cheum Seyha, who was also hampered by a slight injury he picked up during play. Sarinreach used his solid ground strokes to subdue Seyha 6-2, 6-1 in the final.
In the second tier (Flight B), Gabriel Goossens came out on top beating Ngong San of ASPECA orphanage in Kep 6-0, 7-5.
This was San’s second loss in a final. In the previous tournament, he had been beaten by Nel Samnang of Boeung Khyang, who this time around lost to Gabriel Goossens in the semis 7-6, 6-2, while San himself had a relatively easy time in the last four clash with Eng Mutt of Battambang, winning 6-0, 6-2.
The Girls U12 event was reduced to a three-player round-robin. Sang Sokhea of Koh Krabei emerged as the victor after beating Battambang’s Roert Sreynu, who was making her competitive debut.
Sokhea won 4-2, 4-0.
The Girls U18 final had a familiar ring about it with friends and practice partners Cheng Channeang and Ith Leakhena fighting it out. What made this meeting between two Boeung Khyang players special was the fact that Ith Leakhena had broken Channeang’s domination in the previous tournament. But this time it was not to be as Channeang regained her spot as champion with a 7-5, 6-2 win.
“Initially there were 73 participants but a few did not show up because of injury or other reasons. We finished with 68 players,” Tennis Cambodia’s head of junior development Mam Phalkun told the Post yesterday.
“Hagar has been great and the kids have been very happy with the food provided by our partner. Coca Cola provided Aquarius, which is an isotonic drink ideal for athletes. The players greatly benefited from Aquarius and Dasani water that Coca Cola made available for the tournament.
“Ezecom has been a strong supporter and we are proud to have them as one of our sponsors for the national junior tournaments. So really a big thanks to all our partners for another successful event,” he added.