Cambodia’s eagerly awaited tryst with tennis destiny in the form of its first US$15,000 ITF Men’s Futures event at the National Training Centre starts today.
However, the draw has not favoured Bun Kenny, one of the two national players who have been granted wild card entries into the 32-man event, as he has been pitted against top seed and the tournament’s highest ranking player Vishnu Vardhan of India in the first round.
The Kingdom’s second entry, two-time SEA Games bronze medallist Tan Nysan, will match strides with the third seeded 32-year-old Matsui Toshihide of Japan.
“It is a very interesting pairing,” said Tennis Federation of Cambodia General Secretary Tep Rithivit yesterday of the match involving the No 1 seed.
“Of course, Bun Kenny will be playing the most accomplished player in the whole draw. It is a tough beginner no doubt, but we are excited to see how he gets on with it.”
Ranked 387th in the world, the tall and well built Vishnu Vardhan, 23, has already created a buzz around professional circles with a steady rather than a spectacular progression to justify his billing as the best of the current crop of Indian players.
He was part of the Indian squad that took the mixed doubles silver medal with Sania Mirza at the Asian Games in Guangzhou last November, as well as a bronze medal in the team event.
“It is a stern test of skill and stamina for Kenny playing someone as strong as Vishnu,” said national team coach Braen Aneiros. “We have to wait and see how Kenny handles the pressure.
“Tan Nysan’s match-up against the Japanese third seed should be an exciting affair. Nysan has the flair and finesse to trouble the best in the business. It could be a tough call, but certainly not one beyond him,” added the coach.
The tournament’s second seed, 422nd ranked Nikolaus Moser of Austria, begins his quest for the title against Arata Onozawa of Japan, who is 605th in the world.
Thailand No 1 Danai Udomchoke, who was ranked as high as 77 in 2007 but has slipped over the years to 458, said he is happy to be here as a wild card. The fourth seeded Thai, who is arguably the second best known name in his country after Paradorn Srichapan, will play India’s Vijayant Malik.
Thailand No 2 Kittipong Wachiramanowong, who has also been granted a wild card entrance, plays one of the qualifiers in his opening round.
Indiam Yuki Bhambri, 18, who won the Australian Open Junior singles in 2009 and took silver in the First Youth Olympics in Singapore last August, has enjoyed a long run as the world’s top junior.
The fifth seeded youngster could be the one to upset all calculations.
Meanwhile, top rated Chinese player Wang Chuhan duly sealed his place in the main draw by winning his second round in the qualifiers yesterday. He put out Trijati Sunu Wahyu of Indonesia 6-3, 6-3.
In the day’s other qualifiers, Dae-Soung Oh of Korea beat Czech player Jan Belcah 6-4,6-3, Divij Sharan of India ousted Russia’s Arutunyan Araik 6-1, 6-0, India’s Kaza Vinayak Sharma edged Luca Margaroli of Switzerland 6-3, 7-5, Estonia’s Vladimir Ivanov defeated Hsu Hung Yuan of Taipei 7-6, 6-2, Elbert Sie of Indonesia walked over India’s Christopher Marquis 6-0, 6-1, Ashutosh Singh of India squeezed past compatriot Abhijeet Tiwari 6-4, 7-5 and David Agung Susanto of Indonesia overcame New Zealand’s Matt Simpson 6-3, 6-1.
All the winners of yesterday’s second round matches qualified for the main draw to be played over the next two days. Matches begin at the National Training Centre next to the Cambodian Country Club from 10am.