THE biggest moment in 20-year-old Cambodian Bun Kenny’s professional tennis career came at the Trans Binh Industrial Park in Ho Chi Minh City on Saturday when he scalped top seeded Sunu-Wahyu Trijati of Indonesia 6-2, 6-2 in the final to claim the Tanimex Open singles title and a purse of US$3,000.
The second seeded Kenny served consistently well throughout the hour-long baseline contest which he dominated with some deep and often deceptive ground strokes. He pounded out several winners on the Indonesian’s second serve to pin him hopelessly down and in a way exact a revenge for his 6-0, 6-4 loss against the same opponent in the team event of the 2009 SEA Games in Vientiane.
“This is the best I have played and this is the biggest I have won,” Bun Kenny told the Post after his triumph.
“I felt good and strong on my serves and I was quite happy with my court coverage. I would like to thank both the Tennis Federation of Cambodia and national coach Braen Aneiros for their valued support.”
The Cambodian right hander stepped onto the Ho Chi Minh City hard court on Saturday brimming with confidence after making the final at the expense of Vietnam No 2 Do Minh Quan 6-4, 6-1 the previous day. Fellow finalist Trijati also had a relatively easy time in his semifinal against Thailand’s Pongsiri Niroj, winning their hour-and-a-half contest 6-4, 6-3.
The Indonesian No 2, who is ranked 55 places better than Bun Kenny’s 1,409th in the ATP World rankings, got off to a sedate start in the final after Kenny twice opened the court up to drive home winners. Cashing in on the early momentum, Kenny broke his rival twice and aggressively stepped a foot inside the baseline to hammer away second serve returns.
The second set followed an identical pattern, with Kenny breaking through early and keeping the initiative with some sharp and incisive play.
“The victory was never in doubt once Kenny opened his shoulders up and began to find a fluid range on his strokes,” said Braen Aneiros, who accompanied Kenny on this trip. “He worked up good percentages on his serves which for me at least is a very good sign that the changes we made in his service action is paying dividends.
“Taking away those two glorious Tan Nysan bronze medals at the SEA Games, no other Cambodian player has won an event outside of the country, and so this obviously is big time for Tennis Cambodia. I hope he comes up with a few more like this.
Aneiros noted Kenny’s significant improvement after competing regularly in regional hard court circuit events over the last few months. “On the road he is getting to spar with good players and that has really helped him a great deal,” added the coach Braen Aneiros said.
The news of Kenny’s triumph was greeted with great joy and excitement in Phnom Penh. TFC President and Senior Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh was among the first to send a congratulatory message to Kenny. “This is the day we have all been waiting for. I hope there are more to come because we at the TFC want winners so that they can inspire others,” he said.
Meanwhile, TFC Secretary General Tep Rithivit revealed that his “last minute dash to Ho Chi Minh City was worth its while, and a Cambodian player winning an event outside of the country will remain a cherished moment for me.”
“To be sparring with the best in the region is a hopeful sign for us because we can now look forward to the SEA Games as medal winners.”
The Secretary also expressed the positive impact the result will have among the junior ranks of the tennis federation.
“I am certain that our youngsters will look up to Kenny as some kind of an inspirational player to follow,” he said.
“It is a happy omen in a way. Just when we started our Tennis 10s initiative in the provinces, there comes along someone like Kenny who can now tell these raw youngsters that if they work hard they can aim high too.”
Upon his return to Phnom Penh today, the Tanimex Open champion will take a few days off from tennis. He will resume his training in the first week of May in preparation for a trip to Indonesia for a couple of Futures events beginning on May 18.