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Rivalries renewed at Cambodia’s junior tennis tourney

Khleang Ponlok, who won the maiden Boys U-14, will look to return to the winner’s podium as the third National Junior Tennis Tournament starts today.
Khleang Ponlok, who won the maiden Boys U-14, will look to return to the winner’s podium as the third National Junior Tennis Tournament starts today. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Rivalries renewed at Cambodia’s junior tennis tourney

The third National Junior Tennis Tournament, being held much later than originally programmed owing to Tennis Cambodia’s involvement in Davis Cup and Sea Games campaigns, swings into action at the National Training Center today.

Over the long weekend, the country’s emerging talent will go through a tough trial of strength in various age categories to better their prospects of joining the Federation’s more advanced training projects like the Junior Tennis Initiative.

The Boys Under 18 Division is likely to be dominated by the trio of Sreum Kakada, Delton Sophana Kim and Chheang Vannasak.

Kakada goes out as the top seed for the event, holding high hopes of returning to his winning best for the third time this year.

Both Delton Kim and Vannasak did fairly well on the road during their ITF Junior Circuit trips to Thailand and Vietnam and are all the wiser for that valuable experience.

Also prominent in the draw are Michael Schipani and Tep Timothy, the latter having just returned from a highly educative ITF U-16 Training camp in Bangkok.

Players aiming for their winning turns are Chheang Vannasith and Chay Chen from Kep.

Vannasith, who was with Tep Timothy in that Bangkok camp, was a beaten finalist in the year’s first tournament, while Chen was runner-up in the previous event.

Fierce rivalry seen in the last two tournaments between Khleang Punlok, Leng Sarinreach and Sen Sophon of Kep is likely to be renewed in the Boys U-14 section.

Since many of the female players in various tennis programs from the orphanages are well into their summer breaks, there are hardly any entries in both the girls Under 12 and 14 sections.

One girl entrant to the U-12, will now play in the Boys U-12 Flight B, while another lone entry in the U-14 category will be moved up to U-18 class to complete with the older and more experienced rivals.

Meanwhile, one of the most formidable names in girls competition will not be seen in action this week.

Hour Sreypov, who has remained unbeaten in tournament play for well over a year and a half through U-12, U-14 and U-18 categories, will not be able to compete in this tournament owing to her school exams.

Interestingly, Ith Leakhena, who has often been second best in this division will also be kept out of competition by demands of her school studies While the absence of both Sreypov and Leakhena will diminish the quality of the field, it opens the door for a new champion.

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