In a remarkable show of resilience, Guangzhou Asian Games team member Orn Sambath at last turned promise into achievement by winning the Boys Under 18 singles title in Cambodia’s Junior Ranking Championships at the National Training Centre yesterday.
In an absorbing final, generously sprinkled with earned points, Orn Sambath got the measure of his sparring partner Long Samneang 7-6, 6-1 to emerge as the Kingdom’s best junior prospect.
The first set was touch-and-go until Sambath grabbed control of it with some deft play on vital points in the tie-break. The second was no more than a breeze as Sambath tightened his grip after an early break.
“It is quite obvious that Sambath has learned a great deal from his experiences in the Asian Games,” said national team coach Braen Aneiros. “The Futures, where he and Long Samneang played as wild cards in the qualifiers, has also been very helpful. Both these players have come a long way and have been training really hard.”
In the semifinals, Orn Sambath turned the tables on left-handed Ek Chamroeun, a former member of the national team who had often been a thorn in his side. Sambath took the first set 7-5, before Ek Chamroeun pulled out seemingly with no heart for a fight.
In the other semifinal, Long Samneang dismissed another former national player Kan Sophon in a tough encounter 7-6, 1-6, 6-2.
The Under 14 boys title went to Doeum Som Sambath who edged out Chheang Vannasak 6-3, 7-6 in the final.
Tep Timothy blanked out Than Gadon 4-0, 4-0 in the Boys Under 12 final to win his second title so far this year. A product of the junior initiative, Timothy has been gradually ironing out several rough edges under coach Aneiros’s tutelage and that reformation clearly showed in his game throughout the three-day event.
As Aneiros pointed out, “Strong tennis roots like Timothy’s also counts. Both [father] Tep Rithivit and his wife are keen tennis players and that influence is rubbing off on Timothy. He needs to sharpen his focus a lot more for him to develop into a strong player.”
Tea Heng Mey again proved hard to beat in the Girls U12 event. She lost just two games in the first set before wrapping up the final against Kim Dara at 4-2, 4-0. “Tea Heng Mey is a fast improving type. Kim Dara is also one to watch,” added Aneiros.
Like Tep Timothy, Tea Heng Mey also completed back-to-back tournament wins. Unlike the first U12 tournament where the matches were decided on one advantage set, best of three sets played to four games were employed this time.
This is the first of the six junior ranking tournaments that the Tennis Federation of Cambodia has planned for the year. The next event will be the Cham Prasidh Cup in June.