Post sports reporter H S Manjunath outlines the 10 teams particpating in the 2012 Davis Cup Asia-Oceania Group IV competition playing in Doha, Qatar, next week.
Tep Rithivit (Non-playing captain)
Son of the legendary Tep Khunnah, who is regarded as the father of Cambodian tennis, Tep Rithivit spent his formative years in France and Canada after leaving Phnom Penh at the age of 10.
His promising junior tennis career came to a premature end before he was 17, and he has since pursued real estate with great success while acquiring business administration skills and advanced academic knowledge.
Rithivit returned from Canada to Cambodia in 1993. He assumed charge as the secretary-general of the Tennis Federation in the mid ’90s and has brought about a spectacular swing in the Kingdom’s tennis fortunes. At 50, his zest for tennis puts to shame some of today’s junior prospects.
Rithivit currently heads one of Cambodia’s most trusted investment firms, Devenco. He leads the squad as the non-playing captain, a role that perfectly fits his persona and his strong bond with the players.
Bun Kenny (Player)
A 22-year-old right-hander, Bun Kenny joined the Cambodian national team in 2009. His current world ranking is 1,130th and he has five ATP points to his credit after picking up his first in late 2010.
Kenny has won several local tournaments and was the winner of the TANIMEX Cup in Vietnam last year. He has taken part in more than a dozen Futures events in Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, China, India, Indonesia and Malaysia.
He led Cambodia to its first team bronze medal at the SEA Games in Palembang, Indonesia, last November and also represented Cambodia at the 2009 SEA Games in Vientiane and the 2011 Asian Games in Guangzhou, China.
Mam Panhara (Player)
Oregon-based American-Cambodian Mam Panhara is a talented right-hander in his mid-20s. With Bun Kenny, he will figure in the singles challenges.
Panhara is also a sharp doubles player with impressive college tennis credentials in the United States. He was Oregon University No 1 for four years in a row before taking a break from competitive tennis to pursue a career in teaching. However, he is back fighting fit to represent Cambodia. An exciting prospect to watch.
Mam Vetu (Player)
Like his brother Panhara, Vetu also has good college tennis record in the US. The brothers form a good doubles combination.
If they end up playing a Davis Cup doubles rubber together, they will join the Ivy League of sibling pairings that include the Amrithrajs, Vijay and Anand, the Gullliksons, Tim and Tom, the Murrays, Andy and Jamie, and the Bryans, Bob and Mike, to name just a few. Vetu can also be a sound singles alternate for the team.
Long Samneang (Player)
Literally a last-minute pick, Long Samneang is the baby of the team. He is totally inexperienced compared to his team-mates, but has been showing promise in local tournaments.
Samneang was part of the Cambodian team that won the bronze medal in Indonesia last year. He may continue to warm the bench, but sharing Davis Cup experience could greatly benefit his confidence and career.
Braen Aneiros (Head Coach)
Cuban-born Panamanian Davis Cupper Braen Aneiros has been a great asset to Cambodian tennis as head coach and technical director of the Tennis Federation. Marshalling a team of six assistants, Aneiros, who is in his 30s, has played a key role in revitalising Cambodian tennis.
He has produced amazing results from his junior tennis initiatives and is a key component in all of TFC’s development projects. Under his watchful eyes, Cambodia’s No 1 player, Bun Kenny, has grown in the past year and a half from a shy, raw amateur to a self-assured Men’s Futures circuit regular with five ATP points in his bag and a rapidly improving ranking.
Bahrain’s 2-1 loss to Singapore in the fifth to eighth places playoff in 2011 came as a disappointment during a year that was dogged by their volatile political situation leading to the cancellation of F1 Bahrain Grand Prix.
Bahrain’s first appearance in Davis Cup was in 1989. In 22 years, Bahrain holds a 49-48 win-loss record from their 97 ties. The country had reached Group II of the competition as many as four times in the past.
2011 results: Round Robin – Beat Qatar 2-1, lost 0-3 to Jordan, lost 1-2 to Kyrgyzstan. 5th to 8th place playoff – lost 1-2 to Singapore.
Players: Hesham A. Malallah (Non-playing captain), Khaled Al Thawadi, Hasan Abdul Nabi, Abdulla Mohammed, Yusuf E.Qaed.
ITF Ranking: 108th
Despite a decade of upheavals, Iraq has regularly played at this level since making a comeback in 1998. Iraq took a break from the Davis Cup between 1991 and 1998.
The country has a 19-32 win-loss record and finished joint third in 2011, following a 1-2 loss to Kyrgyzstan in the promotion playoff.
2011 results: Round robin – beat Singapore 2-1, lost to Bangladesh 0-3, beat Turkmenistan 2-1. 1st to 4th playoff – (first round) lost 1-2 to Krygyzstan.
Players: Faris Mohammed (Captain) Ahmed Abdulhasan, Ali Hashim, Maab Yaseen, Barakat Zainy.
Jordan finished third last year after losing its promotion playoff against Bangladesh. Entering the competition in 1989, Jordan spent the next four years in Group II before slipping back to Group IV.
2011 Results: Round robin – beat Qatar 2-1, lost to Kyrgyzstan 1-2, beat Bahrain 3-0. 1st to 4th playoff – lost to Bangladesh 1-2.
Players: Aaida Haider Abu-Jaber (captain) Khaled Jamal Naffa, Seif Hazem Adas, Yazan Abdelaziz Abudayeh, Fawaz El Hourani.
One of the oldest members of the Davis Cup family, Myanmar were pushed back to Group IV last year after finishing eighth in Group III, played in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Joining the Cup fold in 1955, Myanmar next appeared in 1963 and 1964 as Burma but disappeared from the scene until 2003. In 56 years of competition, Myanmar hold a 17-22 record.
2011 results: Group III Round Robin - lost 0-3 to Kuwait, lost 0-3 to Sri Lanka, lost 1-2 to Vietnam. Relegation playoff - lost 1-2 to Oman, lost 1-2 to United Arab Emirates.
Players: Min Min (Captain), Nge Hnaung, Phyo Min Thar, Aung Kyaw Naing.
The hosts finished seventh last year after beating Turkmenistan 2-0 in the eighth place playoff. Since 1992, when Qatar entered the fray, the country has built up a 33-56 record and had moved up to Group II on three occasions.
2011 Results: Round Robin – lost to Jordan 1-2, Bahrain 1-2, lost to Kyrgyzstan 1-2. 5th to 8th place playoff – beat Turkmenistan 2-0.
Players: Jassem Mulla (captain), Jabor Ali-Mutawa, Mousa Zayed, Abdulrahman Al Harib, Mubarak Shannan.
The most conservative country in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia last appeared in 2009. The country’s best run was in the 1990s, during which time they were in Group II four times. Saudi Arabia’s record is 40-43 since 1991.
2009 results: Group III Round Robin – lost to Syria 0-3, lost to Sri Lanka, beat Iran 2-1. 5th to 8th playoff – beat Singapore 3-0, beat Tajikistan 3-0, Tie against Iran was not played.
Players: Tawfiq Moafa (captain), Omar Al Thagib, Abdulmalek Burasais, Fahad Al Saad, Zaki Alabdullah.
With multiple appearances in Group II behind them, Singapore are attempting to climb back after finishing fifth in Group IV last year. Singapore have been involved in more ties than most. In their 28-year history since first appearing in 1984, Singapore’s record reads 47-51.
2011 Results: Round Robin - lost 1-2 to Iraq, beat Turkmenistan 2-1, lost 1-2 to Bangladesh. 5th to 8th playoff - beat Bahrain 2-1.
Players: Daniel Heryanta Dewandaka (Captain), Roy Alif Hobbs, Ng Hao Yuan, Rohan Kamdar
After losing the first 14 ties following their 2004 debut, Turkmenistan scored their maiden win over Bahrain in 2007. In eight years, Turkmenistan have won only six rubbers while losing 29. They finished eighth last year.
2011 results: Round Robin – lost 0-3 to Bangladesh, lost 1-2 to Singapore, lost 1-2 to Iraq. 5th to 8th playoff – lost 0-2 to Qatar.
Players: Viktor Krasnov (Captain), Aleksandr Ernepesov, Georgiy Pochay, Eziz Dovletov, Jamshid Ilmuradov.
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
Having played 95 rubbers since 1993, UAE dropped down to Group IV last year after finishing seventh in Colombo. Their most memorable performance goes back to 2002, when they finished third in Group III. The UAE’s overall record stands at 41-54.
2011 results: Group III Round robin – lost 1-2 to Lebanon, lost 1-2 to Oman. Relegation playoff – lost 0-3 to Kuwait, beat Myanmar 2-1, lost to Malaysia 1-2, Tie against Oman not played.
Players: Mahmoud Khalifa Al Balushi (Captain), Omar Khaled Hashem Bahrouzyan Awadhy, Hamad Abbas Janahi, Mahmoud Nader Al Baloushi, Faisal Yousef Bastaki.