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Cambodians at Singapore’s WTA Future Stars

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Left to right: WTA Finals tournament director Melissa Pine with Cambodia’s Lao Pechreaksmey and Chhieu Apsara. Photo supplied

Cambodians at Singapore’s WTA Future Stars

As Singapore’s five-year association with the multi-million dollar WTA Finals reaches its final leg from Sunday until October 28, exciting times are ahead for boys and girls from the Asia-Pacific region to be part of the popular prelude that is the WTA Future Stars.

The event attracts some of the top juniors in the U14 and U16 age groups to compete against their peers and also enjoy the opportunity to watch the world’s top female players in action.

While the top eight singles players will compete in a round-robin format with the winner taking home the Billie Jean King Trophy, the top eight doubles teams will compete in a knockout format for the WTA Finals Martina Navratilova Trophy.

But it is the sideshow starting on Wednesday that creates an ideal chance for the youngsters to compete and attend grassroots development initiatives and a clinic conducted by some of the most respected names in the sport.

Over the years, Tennis Cambodia has seized upon this chance to send out emerging talent to expose them to the rigours of competition, which is also once-in-a-lifetime chance to meet the game’s best and the greatest in friendly settings and also get a taste of how hard these top professionals train and compete.

For the second year in a row, Cambodia’s two contestants will be 14-year-old Chhieu Apsara from the Lycee Rene Descartes and 12-year-old Lao Pechreaksmey from Siem Reap.

Last hurrah

While Apsara, who tops the national U14 rankings, steps up to the U16 class in Singapore, it was a hard ride for Pechreaksmey to clinch the U14 spot.

As there was nothing much to choose between her and Nhaem Srey Noch, the federation had to conduct a playoff between the two Siem Reap-based players. Pechreaksmey got through in three tough sets at the end of September to book her Singapore place.

“This marks the fifth and sadly the last year Singapore will be hosting the WTA Finals. It is not yet known where the event moves next year, and also unknown is whether the WTA Future Stars will continue, but over the years our players have had amazing experiences,” Tennis Cambodia secretary-general Tep Rithivit said.

“We hope for the sake of the regions youngsters that this platform to meet each other and watch the world’s best female players continues to be part of this great year-ender,’’ he added.