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Local starlets ready for bow on world stage

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Cambodia’s Junior Davis Cup and Junior Fed Cup hopes (from left to right) Hour Sreypov, Ho Sreynoch, Khleang Punlok, Chheang Vannasith and Tep Timothy leave for Sri Lanka today to take part in the prestigious international competitions. Sreng Meng Srun

Local starlets ready for bow on world stage

Cambodia’s three-member boys squad for the Junior Davis Cup and the two-player team for the Junior Fed Cup depart for the Sri Lankan capital Colombo today as the Kingdom’s crop of talented youngsters gears up for action in the prestigious international tennis competitions.

Davis Cupper and Tennis Cambodia’s head of Junior Development Phalkun Mam will accompany Tep Timothy, Khleang Punlok and Chhean Vannasith as their coach cum non-playing captain, while the two girls, Hour Sreypov and Ho Sreynoch, will be under the watchful eyes of coach Chhay Manakseka, who teaches tennis in the Sunrise Children’s village on the outskirts of Phnom Penh.

The official draw to determine the pools will be held on Saturday. The Junior Davis Cup will be played at the Sri Lankan Tennis Association courts, while the Fed Cup will be held at the Gymkhana Club.

Tep Timothy: The 16-year-old right-hander from the Lycee Rene Descartes school carries the aspirations of the traditionally tennis savvy Tep family as its third generation of player. His grandfather, the late Tep Khunnah, led the national team for years during the Golden era of Cambodian tennis in the ’60s.

Timothy’s father Tep Rithivit, who has played a lead role in the revival of the game after its near extinction during the Khmer Rouge regime, has been the country’s non-playing captain ever since the Kingdom’s debut in the Asia/Oceania zone Davis Cup Group IV in 2012.

This will be Timothy’s first Junior Davis Cup but also his last since he crosses the age limit next year. As the winner of the end-of-season Masters in December, Timothy will step out as the No1 singles choice.

This is his grand entry to the international arena, and he will be hoping to cash in on the experiences and intense training of an ITF 16 & Under development camp he attended in Bangkok recently.

Khleang Punlok: The 14-year-old student of the Chaktomuk High School will fill in the No2 spot. He topped the year-end rankings in the under-14 division, while placing second in the national rankings for 18 and under.

He has picked up some useful regional match play experience having competed at the ITF 14 & Under Development Championships in Vietnam last year, as well as attending a two-week training camp in Bangkok.
His role as a No2 singles player will be crucial as he will be the first one to take to the court.

Chheang Vannasith: A student at the American Intercon School, the 15-year-old Vannasith has never won a national title but has always produced consistent results in the top flight. He is heading for his first international test and attended the Bangkok ITF camp with Timothy around seven months ago. As the No3 player he will have to be ready to give his best when called upon.

Hour Sreypov: Undefeated in national tournaments for nearly three years, 16-year-old Hour Sreypov from the Holybaby Orphanages in Kandal province’s Boeung Khyang is all set to turn her dream of playing international tennis into reality. Sreypov returned from last year’s trip to Singapore for the WTA Futures Stars event a transformed player.

After seeing first hand the high quality of play against some of the region’s top female players, her hunger for quality tennis has grown significantly. As the older and more experienced partner in this two-player team, it will be
interesting to see how well Sreypov inspires her teammate Ho Sreynoch.

Ho Sreynoch: Having made tennis a career choice and trained as hard as she can to achieve success, 15-year-old Ho Sreynoch is from Sunrise Children’s Village, an orphanage in Takhmao just outside of Phnom Penh.

The ITF training camp in Bangkok opened her eyes to levels of training she had never known before and her trip to the Future Stars with Sreypov has lent new meaning to her tennis aspirations.


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