Khleang Ponlok gained revenge over Sam Davith in the headline 18-and-under boys singles event at July’s Decathlon Junior Series 2019 tennis tournament in Phnom Penh over the weekend.
In the 18-and-under girls singles, May and June’s runner-up Chhieu Apsara went one better to capture her first crown against Lao Pechreaksmey.
Sunday afternoon at the Cambodian Country Club was a different story from the previous meeting between Ponlok and Davith at the first Decathlon event held back in May.
May’s contest saw Ponlok playing inspired tennis to take the opening set confidently, only to fall to Davith in the next two sets.
In similar fashion on Sunday, Ponlok played a nearly flawless first set and won 6-3. But the momentum immediately shifted to Davith’s side of the net, with Ponlok starting the second set with a stream of unforced errors and he went down to an early break 2-1.
Many thought Ponlok would again succumb to Davith but this time he hung around and kept the set close, and was able to break back Davith’s serve twice and hold to take the match 6-3, 6-4 to win his second consecutive Decathlon Junior Series event.
In the 18-and-under girls singles, Apsara defeated Siem Reap’s Pechreaksmey 6-0, 6-2 in Sunday’s final.
Apsara had lost the first two Decathlon Junior Series finals to Ho Sreynoch from Sunrise Children’s Village and took advantage of Sreynoch’s absence due to sickness.
In the final, Apsara was too consistent and fresh, coming off an easier semi-final than her opponent.
While Pechreaksmey reached the final by defeating Nhaem Sreynoch in a three-hour, three-set thriller 6-7, 6-4, 7-6, Apsara defeated Chan Sokvanlina in the other semi-final 6-1, 6-2.
Nguon Vichettra, Cambodia’s No1 player in the boys 14-and-under age category, took the title by defeating all his opponents in the round robin event.
Vichettra won convincingly against fellow Siem Reap player and second place finisher Tom Ratana 4-0, 4-0.
In the 14-and-under girls singles, Siem Reap’s Sokha Liza, Cambodia’s No1 for the age group, proved too strong for the rest of the competition, winning the round robin pool of three players and losing only three games in the process. Liza defeated second place finisher Sin Srey Nich 4-1, 4-2 in their round robin meeting.
Boasting the largest junior development programme in the country, it was fitting that all four 12-and-under boys singles semi-finalists hailed from Siem Reap province.
First time Decathlon Junior Series participant Prumsonou Carlos defeated Siengsokphanthra Yousve 4-0, 4-2 in the final match.
The two met on Saturday in the round robin, with Carlos also winning that match due to Yousve retiring at 2-2 in the second set due to heat complications.
In the 10-and-under boys singles, Say Makara defeated fellow Kep player Phanith Pheng 7-4, 9-7 in their modified best-of-three tiebreaker match to win his first title on his Decathlon Junior Series debut, having missed the May and June events due to illness.
The 10-and-under girls singles event saw Morm In take her second consecutive title on Saturday, defeating her sister Morm On 7-0, 7-1 in their modified best-of-three tiebreaker round robin match.
The Morm sisters hail from Kep and attend the Don Bosco Technical School in the coastal town.
Speaking after the event, Tennis Cambodia secretary-general Tep Rithivit said: “This month’s event came at a great time, as it was the perfect warm-up for our juniors who will be travelling to Jakarta, Indonesia for the 2019 Asian School Games, which is for athletes 18 years of age and under.
“Three of the four boys heading to Jakarta made the semi-finals this weekend, so we know they’re in a good place tennis-wise.
“As always, a big thanks to Decathlon Cambodia, Pontoon Club, Pharmacie de la Gare and the Cambodian Country Club as hosts for their support.
“The Cambodian Country Club did a big favour for us over the weekend and were able to house the Siem Reap team in their new staff housing, which saved the provincial team a lot of money in the end.”
The Decathlon Open Series August event has been moved forward to July 27th and 28th due to some of the top juniors travelling to the Asian School Games and the Kingdom’s top player travelling to Kuala Lumpur for one of Malaysia’s National Open Circuit events.