A fabulous year of accolades, achievements and international recognition will be brought to an end this week by the country’s fast-growing young stock of players in an ATP-style Masters event.
The top eight ranked players in each category will feature in one of the toughest junior competitions, which begins today.
The International Tennis Federation highlighted Tennis Cambodia as the most improved federation in Southeast Asia in November, on the back of the country’s boys and girls making the Junior Davis Cup and Fed Cup, national player Chheang Vannasak getting an American tennis scholarship in Idaho and, above all, Andrea Ka becoming the first Cambodian to win an ITF singles title, a feat she repeated.
“Such a resounding year had to be marked by something special, and I hope the Masters fits the bill,” secretary-general of Tennis Cambodia Rithivit told the Post yesterday.
“These achievements may have been overshadowed by our Davis Cup slide to Group IV. That battle is on another front and we are ready to fight back,” he added.
The hosting of an ITF junior event marked a major shift in the federation’s focus to junior development since since the JTI is rolling out players in great numbers among various categories of players.
Keeping this diversity of interest in mind, the top eight ranked players will figure in the year’s final push.
With American-Cambodian Andrea Ka setting new heights and inching closer to her dream of a ranking below 500, the federation is working on ways to broaden the appeal among the under-18 category.
Unfortunately there have been few breakthroughs and the scene will once again be dominated by Hour Sreypov and Ho Sreynoch.
The happiest bunch of all are the girls from Happy Chandara organisation, who take up all the slots in the girls U12 category to ensure victory will be theirs.
Chhorn Sreyvin has taken the top ranking from Suong Phally, who missed the last provincial tournament in Phnom Penh.
The boys 12 and under will feature the top two players, both from Aspeca Orphanage in Kep.
Because of the rankings of Sen Sorkheng and Ngong San, they have also been selected to compete in the ITF/ATF Division II Development Championships in Bangkok next month, which is a regional 14 and under development tournament taking place at the Lawn Tennis Association of Thailand.
Heading the boys 14 and under is Sam Davith, who took top spot after rival Leng Sarinreach moved up to the boy’s 18 category and claimed the No1 position there.
Davith has also been selected to compete in the Division II Development Championships next month alongside Sorkheng and San.
With Leng Sarinreach out due to a minor injury, Ponlok Khleang, who hasn’t won a National this year but has competed in every event and done consistently well in all, will be the top seed going into this weekend.
Chheang Vannasith will be the second seed but this is one tough group of players where results have often been hard to predict.