French-born Cambodian Andrea Ka defeated China’s Zhang Yukun 7-5-6-4 in the first round of the $10,000 ITF Women’s Futures at the Victoria Tennis Courts in Hong Kong yesterday to earn her first WTA ranking point after a four-year break she took away from the circuit to pursue her studies in the United States.
The 22-year-old right-hander was decidedly the steadier of the two from the baseline and played the pressure points with great assurance to get the better of her 923- ranked Chinese rival, who turns 19 on Christmas day.
In today’s second round, Andrea Ka will meet the winner of the match between Makoto Ninomiya of Japan and second seed Zhaoxuan Yang of China.
Ranked as high as 766 in July of 2010, Andrea, both of whose parents are Cambodians, left France where the family had settled to go to the United States and kept away from the circuit during her college days.
She first represented Cambodia at the 2011 SEA Games in Indonesia and was back as a member of the National team that took part in the Incheon Asian Games two months ago.
It wasn’t the best of starts that Andrea could have wished for as she trailed 1-4 in the first set. But once she began to grate the grooves, it was Zhang Yukun who was wilting under the pressure.
Two breaks each in the first set brought Andrea and Zhang on par at 5-5. In a game where deuce was called no less than three times, Andrea finally broke through to lead 6-5 and confidently served out to take a crucial 1-0 advantage.
She pounced on Zhang Yukun’s opening service game in the second set only to see her Chinese rival break back. Both were jumpy even as they traded breaks.
Andrea staved off two break points to stay well on course, but she was also a touch nervous since her rival was battling hard.
It was in the ninth game that Andrea hammered Yukun’s service game to love and kept her own serves on the mark to wrap up the contest.
“I feel great that I am regaining my ranking” Andrea told the Post after her victory.
“It is a great day for Cambodian women’s tennis. We have had Tan Nysan and Bun Kenny with world rankings on the men’s circuit,” she said.
“For Andrea Ka to be in the WTA ranking list shows we are on the right track”, Tennis Cambodia secretary-general Tep Rithivit said.
Among those who congratulated Andrea Ka were the secretary-general of the National Olympic Committee Vath Chamroeun and president of Tennis Cambodia and Minister for Industry, Mines and Handicrafts Cham Prasidh.