For 25-year-old Frenchman Camille Houdre it was a profitable trip to Kep. The right-hander, who was among the top 10 back home in his junior days, took the men’s singles title in the second Kep Open tennis tournament in the coastal town’s Villa Romonea court yesterday.
In a hard fought final that was decided on a super tie break, the fifth-seeded Houdre got the measure of left-handed local hope Sokphal Ngo Sisowath, who despite shouldering the huge burden of organising the event also displayed his court craft as the third seed in going down gamely at 6-1, 3-6, 10-7.
“I invited Camille Houdre to play here. He accepted the invitation and I am glad he is going back with the trophy,” beaten finalist Sokphal, who is also the Tennis Federation of Cambodia’s head coach for junior programs in Kep and Kampot, told the Post yesterday.
“I enjoyed my tennis here and I will be back next year,” promised Houdre, who played an exquisite super tie break during which his 37-year-old rival managed to save a match point in the craziest of fashions – amortie as the French love to call it.
On the way to the final, Houdre produced the surprise of the tournament by getting the better of top seeded Long Chumnet, a TFC junior initiative coach. The Frenchman won 4-1, 4-5, 10-8.
In the other semi-final, Sokphal defeated one of TFC’s Phnom Penh-based coaches, Pov Pros, 5-4, 4-2.
The men’s doubles event was won by Geoffrey Broucher and Chem Somphors. The winning pair beat Stephane Arril and Eric Mam 8-10, 10-7, 11-9 in a contest of tie-breaks.
The organisers treated all the players to a closing ceremony dinner at the popular Breezes Restaurant where the trophy presentation was also arranged.
Tennis Federation of Cambodia Secretary General Tep Rithivit, while congratulating the winners and the participants, also commended the organisers AS Kep for making the second edition a memorable one.
The TFC, Tep Rithivit said, was pleased to note the huge support from local businesses for this event.
“It was as if the whole town was behind this and I am confident tennis will grow a lot bigger in Kep,” said the secretary.