Kep poster boy Sen Sophon, who missed the first tournament of the year due to school commitments, picked up the boys under-18 singles title after outlasting division first-timer Leng Sarinreach 6-7, 6-3, 6-3 in the second Junior Tennis Nationals during the Khmer New Year celebrations.
The 13-year old Sarinreach, rising fast as a bright prospect, got into the tougher company as the winner of the boys under-14 title and quickly asserted himself by taking the first set on a tie-break.
But the effort clearly left him weary. Sensing his chance to wear his opponent down, Sophon cleverly kept the rallies long, dourly stayed in points and drained his rival’s energy.
In the lead-up to the final, Sarinreach had done well to sideline two older national team members, Chheang Vannisath in straight sets and Tep Timothy in a tough three-setter.
It had been an easy outing for Sarinreach in the under-14 final where he dominated Sam Davith 6-3, 6-2.
In the boys under-12 final between two players from Aspeca in Kep, Sen Saukeng beat Reut Touit 6-3, 6-2.
For the first time in the National series, players from Happy Chandara, an all-girls school that teaches over 1,000 underprivileged students, took part in the girls flight B draw.
Though the girls were placed in their own flight with the softer and slower green dot balls, they demonstrated heart and fight, especially the 150-minute final in which Suong Phally won out over Chhorn Sreyvin 6-4, 3-6, 6-2.
The Kingdom’s Junior Fed Cup teammates Hour Sreypov and Ho Sreynoch contested the girls under-18 singles final. Hour Sreypov continued her dominance over Sreynoch, winning 6-4, 6-3.
When the two meet, Sreypov usually gets the better of Sreynoch, but the manner and the score this time was not all that telling, as many games went to deuce and were often decided after advantage changed hands many times.