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Youngsters ace their finals

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Hour Srey Pov hits a return to Ith Leakhena during their National U11 Girls final match at the National Training Centre yesterday. Photograph: Sreng Meng Srun/Phnom Penh Post

Hour Srey Pov has tennis skills far beyond her age, with the nine–year-old rising above her under-privileged upbringing to prove that natural talent counts at the National Training Centre yesterday.

The sparkling-eyed Takeo native scored her first big win when she defeated Ith Leakhena 4-2, 4-2 in the final to claim the National U11 Girls title. In a small field of six, Hour Srey Pov made the final at the expense of Oung Srey Pov 4-1, 5-4, while Ith Leakhena got past Cheng Channeang 5-4, 4-0 .

“She was runner-up in the last junior national [event] a couple of months ago. Ever since that performance she has been in the the federation’s shortlist for special attention. The victory is a good sign of progress,” Tennis Federation of Cambodia Secretary-General Tep Rithivit told the Post.

“The boys and girls are loving this event and we have decided to hold three more similar tournaments before the end of the year.”

The boys section also produced a worthy winner in Sen Sophon, who picked up his first tennis lessons at the ASPECA Orphanage in Kep barely nine months ago. In a final that was evenly contested, Sen Sophon’s greater consistency helped him beat Svay Voth 1-4, 4-1, 4-2.

Earlier in the semifinals, Sen Sophon defeated Poeurn Rakadi 5-3, 4-2, while Svay Voth had the measure of Leng Sarinrea 4-1,4-2.

Tournament Director Chea Poev revealed that a record number of 44 had taken part in the boys section.

“The competitive spirit among the players has considerably gone up and also camaraderie among them. This is a reflection on the hard work that our coaches have been putting in,” he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: H S Manjunath at hirimanju@yahoo.com

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