Cambodia's Davis Cup spearhead Bun Kenny will take on Frenchman Julien Demois on Court No 1 at 10am today to set the action rolling in the first of the three back-to-back US$10,000 ITF Cambodian Futures tennis series at the National Training Centre.
The 32-player event is being branded as the ITF NagaWorld Tennis Championship by main sponsors NagaWorld, Indochina's entertainment and gaming sector pioneers.
The main draw released yesterday evening by ITF Supervisor Puneet Gupta of India pitted 1,192nd ranked Bun Kenny against the 760th ranked French left-hander in a contest that could well be a tough baseline slug fest.
“Going by the rankings, Julien Demois is a tough proposition. But Kenny has trained hard. He appears to be in good touch and I hope he can make a match of it,” Cambodia national team coach Braen Aneiros told the Post yesterday.
Bun Kenny, who won all his five rubbers in Cambodia's Group IV Davis Cup campaign in Doha this year besides picking up five ATP points on the pro tour in the last 10 months, said: “I am feeling good with my game and I hope to do well.”
Bun Kenny is one of the three wild card holders along with team-mates Mam Panhara and his elder brother Mam Phalkum.
The Tennis Federation of Cambodia allotted the fourth wild card to Japan's Katshushi Fukuda, who will play his first round against seventh seeded Sarvar Ikramov of Uzbekistan tomorrow.
The US-based Mam Phalkum has drawn Vietnam's top player, Minh Quan Do, who came through the qualifiers in the first round. The match up could well provide a pointer to Phalkum's standing in Southeast Asia, having got into the circuit as a newcomer in the region.
Of the three Cambodian hopefuls, Mam Panhara, who along with Bun Kenny was unbeaten in Doha winning all five singles rubbers, has the toughest opening round.
He will be up against sixth seeded Maximilian Neuchrist of Austria tomorrow.
India's Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan goes out as the tournament's top seed with a ranking of 330th ahead of Croatian Marin Bradaric, ranked 378th.
The 24-year-old Indian left hander, who is from the traditionally tennis rich state of Chennai, has a 35-15 win loss record in ITF Pro circuit main draws this year.
In the last 10 months, the 27-year-old Bradaric has jumped nearly one thousand places, stringing together a 38-13 record for the year.
In the qualifying rounds over the weekend, Cambodia's Long Samneang found Taipei's Chuang Ting Yu too hot to handle.
Though the 17-year-old Samneang, who got in as a wild card, played well up to his known strengths, his rival always had an upper hand and closed out the hour-long contest 6-1, 6-1.
The eight qualifiers who made it to the main draw were Dekel Bar (Israel), Do Minh Quan (Vietnam), Konstantin Gerlakh (Russia), Chuang Ting Yu (Taiwan), Yan Sabanin (Russia), Mico Santiago (USA), Sergey Shipilov (Uzbekhistan) and Hufu Wang (China).
The first round of the men's doubles to be played after 12 singles matches is a mixed blessing for Cambodia.
Bun Kenny, who partners Mick Lescure of France, will face the Mam brothers, Panhara and Phalkum.
This match-up ensures that at least one Cambodian team or a portion of it will make it to the second round.
To contact the reporter on this story: H S Manjunath at [email protected]