Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Local tennis hope meets US legend




Local tennis hope meets US legend

Cambodia’s Chhieu Apsara and tennis great Lindsay Davenport pose for photos at the WTA Charities Community Day in Singapore last week. (Main picture) Former Australian Fed Cup captain Alicia Molik helps Apsara with her grip during a coaching clinic.
Cambodia’s Chhieu Apsara and tennis great Lindsay Davenport pose for photos at the WTA Charities Community Day in Singapore last week. (Main picture) Former Australian Fed Cup captain Alicia Molik helps Apsara with her grip during a coaching clinic. AFP

Local tennis hope meets US legend

When one of America’s biggest names in women’s professional tennis Lindsay Davenport retired in 2010 after winning 55 WTA tournaments including three grand slams, Cambodia’s Chhieu Apsara was barely 6 and a world away from the game she would eventually come in contact with nearly three years later.

The shy and unassuming Apsara, who returned to Phnom Penh yesterday, had the thrill of her young life on the sidelines of the year-ending multimillion-dollar WTA Finals in Singapore when she met the former world No1 at a charities event.

Apsara was the Kingdom’s only U14 representative among 48 Future Stars from 21 countries joining over 100 young players on court in Singapore for the inaugural WTA Charities Community Day.

The occasion featured WTA Finals legend ambassador Davenport and WTA Finals community ambassador Judy Murray, the mother of the current men’s world No3 Andy.

Introduced this year, WTA Charities aims to inculcate in the next generation the importance of living a healthy and productive life, while showing them the value of teamwork, discipline, and determination, values that are closely associated with the top eight players in the WTA Finals.

Before going through those unforgettable moments and making a legion of friends from across the globe, Apsara attended a coaching clinic run by former player and Australian Fed Cup captain Alicia Molik, who helped the Cambodian junior improve her grip.

As Apsara confided on her return to Phnom Penh, the biggest excitement for her and many of her peers was the opening ceremony of the WTA Finals and a court-side seat to watch the opening match between another American legend, Venus Williams, and Czech Karolina Pliskova.

Travelling alongside Tennis Cambodia coach Chhay Manakseka, Apsara got a good taste of what it takes to be a top junior and to be in the elite group all in the matter of a week.

‘Life changing experience’
While off-court engagements brought her a wealth of knowledge and an understanding of the way tennis futures are shaped and nurtured, Apsara also managed to get a decent picture of how hard and competitive tennis is on the court.

In the first of her own matches, Apsara failed to win a game but buried those disappointments in a Singapore Sightseeing Adventure – a boat tour in the Bay of Singapore provided free by the organisers for all the players and coaches.

Players from Malaysia and Pacific Oceania proved too good for Apsara on Day 2, yet she kept her spirits high and pulled out a game each in the two sets against her rival from the Philippines the next day.

She went down to her Singapore opponent by the same scoreline but, as coach Chhay confirmed, there clearly was learning and improvement from match to match.

Phalkun Mam, Tennis Cambodia’s head of development said: “The on-court results do not really matter. What is important for both the federation and the player is the opportunity for one of our juniors to mix with players of her own age, watch some of the best players train and compete, and be with the legends. I think it is a life changing experience for anyone.

“We have to thank the organisers, in particular senior events coordinator Mark Clemente who took care of all the players and coaches during the Future Stars event in what was another successful year in Singapore.’’

Apsara is the third player from Cambodia to participate in the Future Stars program. Two years. ago, Hour Srey Pov (U16) and Ho Sreynoch (U14) represented the country.

MOST VIEWED

  • Would you like fries with that? US burger chain makes Phnom Penh debut

    California-based The Habit Burger Grill restaurant chain is all set to serve up a delicious array of charbroiled burgers and sides at its newest international location in the centre of Phnom Penh. The Habit is “renowned for its award-winning Charburgers grilled over an open flame,

  • Phnom Penh underpass opens to ease traffic

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced a temporary opening of the 488m underpass at the Chaom Chao roundabout in Phnom Penh’s Por Sen Chey district, which was recently completed to connect traffic from National Road 4 to Russian Federation Blvd. The move is to reduce

  • Banteay Meanchey flood victims receive aid

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday provided aid to more than 10,000 families affected by flooding in Banteay Meanchey province’s Mongkol Borei district and offered his condolences to the 18 victims who drowned in the province over the past week. He said flooding had occured in

  • PM urges caution as Polish man tests positive for Covid

    The Ministry of Health on Wednesday reported that a 47-year-old Polish man tested positive for Covid-19 after arriving in Cambodia on Monday. There are a total of six Covid-19 patients currently in the country, all of whom are being treated at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital

  • Serving coffee with a side of robots

    The eye-catching glass building surrounded by greenery at the intersection of Streets 371 and 2002 in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district is more than just another coffee shop where you can while away a few hours. UrHobby House cafe is filled with robots and characters from

  • Banteay Meanchey floods kill one more as death toll reaches 15

    As floodwaters start to recede in Pursat, Battambang and Pailin provinces and Phnom Penh, Banteay Meanchey continues to bear the brunt as one more person was killed on Monday, bringing the total number of flood-related deaths to 15 in the province this month. Banteay Meanchey provincial