A highly regarded member of the ITF’s Wheelchair Tennis Development Fund team, Suzie Dyrbus, who has been involved in the coaching, development and promotion of the sport in more than 30 countries, arrived in Phnom Penh on Thursday to begin a six-day visit in which she will evaluate and bolster the ongoing program in Cambodia.
As a project country on a two-year funding from the World’s Governing Body, Tennis Cambodia’s push to create equal opportunities for the disabled through the introduction of wheelchair tennis has seen a surge in Battambang, where the program is based at the La Paloma Center for the Disabled.
In the past year, ITF experts, Joe Kubizniak and Greg Crump have conducted coaching sessions in Battambang and Suzie Drybus’s visit will be the last of the three scheduled camps before the term of the project nears its end.
While the two previous players’ clinics were conducted on a community cement court, the dynamic has totally changed for the players, who will for the first time get onto a fully fledged court at the National Training Center in Phnom Penh.
While Dyrbus brings a wealth of coaching experience and expertise with her, she will have by her side player ambassador Anthony Bonacurrso, who made a huge impression on the players when he last visited Cambodia in May with renowned Australian wheelchair tennis coach Greg Crump.
The 41-year old Bonacurrso took up wheelchair tennis in 1993 after youthful highjinks at 17 led to an accident after he climbed a pole at a Victoria railway station where he was electrocuted.
The resulting fall left him with severe spinal injuries. He started tennis as part of his rehab and carried on from there to the Wheelchair Tennis tour, where he was ranked as high as No16 at one stage. He was also a member of the Australian Team that won the World Team Cup in Italy.
‘’His life story, his achievements, his skills on court and friendly ways inspired a lot of our players in Battambang. I am sure they will be looking forward to meet him and share court time with him again” Tennis Cambodia’s head of junior development, Phalkum Mam, said.
‘’We will have 10 players from Battambang joining us in Phnom Penh for their first training camp on regular courts. Down the line, we want to hold competitions for our wheelchair players and therefore want to make sure they get the most out of their training,’’ he said.
‘’There is no better way than to learn from our ITF experts and former players on the wheelchair tour. We’re hoping for another successful visit,’’ said Phalkun Mam, who also oversees the wheelchair tennis program.