One of Cambodia’s fast-shaping junior talents, Leng Sarinreach overcame a fierce second-set challenge from Khleang Punlok to win the Boys 16 and Under singles title in the first National Junior Tennis Tournament at the National Tennis Center in Phnom Penh on Sunday.
The all-Phnom Penh clash ended in Sarinreach winning 6-1, 7-6, but not before a hard-fought second-set tie-break as Punlok seemed away from his usually consistent self.
After the first-set demolition, Punlok showed stronger presence on the court, but that only pushed Sarinreach to step up and polish off the tie without the anxiety of going into a decider.
Sam Davith of Kandal took full advantage of his provincial teammate Nel Samnang’s slight elbow strain to emerge as the 6-1, 6-2 winner in the Boys 14 and Under category.
While Davith had an easier path to the final, Samnang had played several close matches with numerous sets going to tie-breaks, and was seemingly affected by a troubled elbow.
The rivalry between Battambang and Siem Reap players manifested itself in the Boys 12 and Under final, which saw first-time finalists Ung Pov and Soum Rootha fight every step of the way in a one-set battle.
Having seen off rivals from Kandal in the semifinals, Pov and Rootha drove the finish to a tie-break, where a determined Pov kept his nerve having blown a 5-1 lead earlier to win the title for Battambang.
Due to heavy overnight rains, many of the matches including some finals were decided on the strength of one advantage set.
For the first time ever wheelchair players from Battambang, the seat of Tennis Cambodia’s programme for the disabled, joined the national events in Phnom Penh. Marking the big occasion, Saim Kimsua, representing La Paloma, dominated the rest with a convincing 6-1 win over Khean Chin from the same rehabilitation centre.
As expected the top male division, the Boys 18 and Under, went to Tep Timothy, who breezed through his final 6-1, 6-1 against Ith Bunthea of Kandal.
Kandal’s Hour Sreypov re-established her supremacy over Ho Sreynoch of Phnom Penh, 7-5, 6-0. Building on her last victory over Sreynoch in a combined Phnom Penh-Kandal provincial tournament, Sreypov was all over her younger rival in the second set.
Chhieu Apsara of Phnom Penh defeated Nyem Srey Noch of Siem Reap 5-3, 4-1 in the Girls 14 and Under final.
Apsara fought off a very consistent Srey Noch in the first set, and when it came to closing out the match, her experience came through.
Reth Reaksmey of Battambang defeated Sokar Lisa of Siem Reap 6-5 (4) in the Girls 12 and Under final. Like in the Boys 12 and Under category, two new national finalists battled for the title in Reaksmey and Lisa.
Both are from Tennis Cambodia’s provincial programmes and have made remarkable progress.