A loss in the final round of the US$15,000 Men’s Futures qualifiers at the Kemoyaran Tennis Centre in Jakarta earlier this week turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Cambodian top gun Bun Kenny, who is now within sight of doubles glory partnering Indonesian Aditya Hari Sasangko.
Bun Kenny, not by any means a serious doubles type, teamed with 24-year-old Sasangko for a fling, and the pair caused one flutter after another on Wednesday to storm into the semifinals, winning both their tantalisingly close encounters on super tie-breaks.
Standing in the way of Kenny and his partner’s advance to tomorrow’s final are the top-seeded Chinese pair of Peng Gao and Wan Gao.
The chemistry on court between Kenny and Sasangko worked amazingly well when the pair played an exquisite tie-break to wrap up the first round against the Taipei combination of Chih Jen Ho and Jui Mao 6-3, 3-6 (10-7).
The second-round story was slightly different, with notable twists when Kenny and Sasangko crossed paths with the formidable South Korean pair of Cheong Eui Kim and Dae Soung Oh.
The Koreans took the first set 6-4 and were well within range of a straight-sets victory, but the Cambodian-Indonesia duo turned the contest on its head by winning a tense second-set tie-breaker, then went on to clinch the tie in a thrilling super tie-break 10-8.
“It’s such a good feeling winning those two close matches. More than that, we combined so well,” said Bun Kenny, who lost his singles qualifier to South Korea’s In Sub Lee 6-2, 7-5.
Kenny, who held a 2-2 win-loss record on the circuit in doubles before this week’s sensational run, is yet to be ranked in this category, while his Indonesian partner, with a 2-1 record, enjoys a doubles world ranking of 1,415.
With at least three ATP points coming their way for a semifinal advance and a few more to be picked up if they indeed make the final and eventually win it, Kenny and Sasangko could reasonably expect their doubles ranking merit to go up.
“This is the side of Kenny we knew existed, but hardly ever get to see,” Tep Rithivit, secretary-general of the Tennis Federation of Cambodia, told the Post yesterday. “A place in the semifinals of a US$15,000 Futures is a quite a big deal as far as Kenny’s ability to play doubles at this level.
“It is very cheerful news for Cambodian tennis.
“I hope the two of them will go all the way and bring us the kind of joy we’ve been waiting for so long. The doubles component is crucial for Cambodia’s Group III Davis Cup campaign next year.
“If Kenny can build on this doubles promise, the team structure could become that much stronger.”
To contact the reporter on this story: H S Manjunath at [email protected]