Hosts Siem Reap proved too strong for the visitors from Battambang in the annual inter-provincial tennis contest for the Tonle Sap Cup, a symbol of tennis supremacy in the Kingdom’s northwest where Tennis Cambodia established its biggest regional centre nearly three years ago.
At the weekend, Siem Reap, boasting three national No1 players in three different age groups, dominated their rivals at the newly completed ICF Tennis Center, the new home regional home with four red clay courts, which form part of a sports hub created by Swiss-supported non-denominational church ICF.
Inspired by the idea, a Korean church has now completed two similar clay courts on the opposite side of the city, where coaching activities will soon begin.
Introduced three years ago, the Tonle Sap Cup brings the neighbouring provinces’ tennis communities together. Matches were held in the Davis Cup format of two singles ties followed by a doubles match.
Siem Reap emerged victorious for the third year in a row, with a win that bolsters their confidence before the National Games begin in Phnom Penh later this month.
Zero tennis courts to six
At the start of 2018, Tennis Cambodia’s northwest office had no courts available after its contract with the Angkor Palace Hotel ended.
As Australian coach Scott Windus, who heads the northwestern office, recalled: “On January 1, we had zero courts in the entire region. We needed to move fast and we called on ICF to help us out.”
“We were able to negotiate a large patch of land to build four red clay courts with ICF, who had already developed a sports hub over the last three years that had a swimming pool, diving board, a ropes course, a covered basketball court, a soccer pitch and a brand new international standard beach volleyball court.”
The courts were completed in late March in time for the Tonle Sap Cup to be the first major event held.
“I am pleased with the way the courts have turned out. The surface is firm and getting more solid as the hot season bakes them,” Windus said.
“We still have about three months’ worth of court beautification around the new facility, doing hedges, the paving, shade shelters and a creating a real lawn tennis court – which will be developed over the wet season.”
“The Korean initiative is a bonus. It will make it six courts from nothing!”