The first event in the newly established Decathlon Junior Series 2019 took place on Saturday and Sunday in Phnom Penh at the National Tennis Center and the Cambodian Country Club.
Overall there were 79 competitors in 10U, 12U, 14U and 18U age categories, with 62 boys and 17 girls participating.
The 10 & Under Division went to Mateo Pin, who defeated Sok Channimol. The 10 & Under Division format was the first to win two tie-breakers instead of playing a full or shortened set.
The children played on modified red courts with modified red felt balls, which are bigger and slower than the traditional yellow ball. In the final between Pin and Channimol the format changed to two out of three 10-point tie-breakers, with Pin winning 10-4, 10-7.
The 12 & Under Boys Division was played with modified green balls, which have 25 per cent less pressure than the traditional yellow ball.
Chheang Chanmony, who is the youngest of three tennis playing brothers from Phnom Penh, won the 12 & Under Division by defeating Thy Thang from Battambang 4-0, 4-0.
The 14 & Under Girls Division went to Sokha Liza of Siem Reap. Just last year Liza competed for Cambodia in the ITF Southeast Asia 12 & Under Team Regional Championships, playing in the No1 spot for the Kingdom.
She is still 12 years old but was bumped up to the 14U category because there weren’t enough participants who signed up for the 12U category.
In the final, Liza defeated Suem Srey Nich 4-0, 4-0. Srey Nich is also from Siem Reap and the consistent lefty only started playing tennis this year in one of Tennis Cambodia Northwest’s Junior Tennis Initiative programmes.
The 14 & Under Boys Division went to another player from Siem Reap, Ngoun Vichettra. In January of this year, Vichettra travelled to Bangkok, Thailand to compete in the ITF/ATF 14 & Under Development Championships. Vichettra defeated Samrith Bhutong from Sunrise Children’s Village 4-0 and 5-3.
In the 18 & Under Girls Division, Ho Sreynoch, who is 18 this year and who formerly attended Sunrise Children’s Village, continued her long winning streak.
‘Big thanks to sponsor Decathlon’
Through all of 2018, she won all the local junior and open events that she competed in, falling only in Tennis Cambodia’s International Tennis Federation Junior Circuit events. Sreynoch defeated fellow Phnom Penh player Chhieu Apsara 6-1, 7-5.
In the 18 & Under Boys Division, Sam Davith, from Holybaby Orphanage, was unseeded and went on to defeat No1 seed Khleang Ponlok, from Phnom Penh, 3-6, 6-3 and 10-6 in the third set match tie-breaker.
After a tough two set win for Ponlok over Leng Sarinreach in the semi-finals, he was left without enough gas to win the match in straight sets against Davith, who played a very smart second set to take advantage of Ponlok’s exhaustion. Earlier this year Davith played in the Junior Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Division in Sri Lanka.
“What a great start to the Decathlon Junior Series with nearly 80 participants.
“A very big thank you to our main sponsor Decathlon, who supplied all the participants with a free T-Shirt, equipped the entire competition with Artengo tennis balls and provided gift prizes for all the finalists and champions – all the players were really happy with the event.
“Also thanks to Pontoon Club and Cambodian Country Club, our two associate sponsors for the series as well.
“We are now preparing for the first Open Event which will take place at the end of the month, and are looking forward to bringing another high-quality organised competition for everyone to join,” said Tennis Cambodia secretary-general Tep Rithivit.
Decathlon Cambodia Retail Leader Jean-Baptiste Prigent was present for the medal ceremony and handed out all the medals and prizes for the finalists of the various age groups.
The next event is the Decathlon Open Series which begins on May 31.