The Tennis Federation of Cambodia’s signature event, the Cambodia Open, hits the hard courts of the National Training Centre tomorrow with a new dynamic heightening its profile.
A group of 14 young players from an orphanage in Kep, whose eyes were opened to the world of tennis less than three months ago, are making this year’s tournament special by taking part in the U12 event, their first feel of a full court in a competition.
“I am more excited than the kids,” TFC Secretary General Tep Rithivit told the Post yesterday. “This is the big moment we have all been waiting for. These kids knew nothing about tennis three months ago, and here they are wielding their racquets and taunting their skills in a tournament.
“What more can you ask for. It is a leap of faith in our junior programs,” he added.
The secretary revealed that the children came from ASPECA, an orphanage and school run by a French NGO, and were among 35 who took part in a two-week tennis 10s program held by the TFC.
“Since those first lessons and baby steps, they have grown in confidence and skill levels to be in a position to play competitive tennis, and we are eager to see them on court,” said Tep Rithivit, adding that all transport and accommodation would be taken care of by the federation and ASPECA.
As in previous Open editions, the men’s singles event has been split into three categories, with the elite A category set apart for nationally ranked players.
“The B and C sections are for those players who can go for a mix of competition and fun,” TFC Technical Director and national team head coach Braen Aneiros said yesterday.
The other listed events are the men’s doubles, boys U14 singles and boys U18 singles, with the tournament concluding on September 18.
“We are expecting a fairly good number of entries,” added coach Aneiros. “Most of our national players will take part including No 1 Bun Kenny. They have the SEA Games lined up in November. This could serve as a good tune up for them.”
Children get top tutorials
Meanwhile, the TFC’s annual “Learn Tennis with the Best” programme for boys and girls aged between 7 and 18 years opens at the National Training Centre on Monday. The six-week session for three distinct groups based on age and ability concludes on October 21.
“This is our idea of helping budding juniors bond with the best and get some exclusive court time and attention,” Braen Aneiros, who is conducting the programme, told the Post yesterday
The coach noted a choice of training intensity available to all applicants. “For all groups, once a week training will cost a player US$85, twice a week $155, three times $215 and four times $265,” he said.
The Red Group, for children aged 7-10, deals with motor skills, coordination, and basic tennis with a touch of fun.
The Orange Group, for 11-14 year olds, focuses on basic strokes, technique and scoring, while the more advanced Green Group involves improvising strokes, brushing up technique and evolving strategy.
“Our past experience shows that the special attention children get in this programme helps them to sharpen their skills much faster,” Aneiros added.