The focus will be on the players heading for the international stage next month when the season’s first National Junior Tennis Tournament rolls into action at the Cambodian Country Club courts on Friday.
The winner of the year-ending Masters, Tep Timothy, who leads the Junior Davis Cup pack, returns to the under-18 boys division to renew his rivalry with No1 ranked Michael Schipani. Also in the fray will be Timothy’s travel-mates to Sri Lanka, Chheang Vannasith and Khleng Punlok.
Turning 15 this year, Kep poster boy Sen Sophon, who finished 2015 in the No2 spot, steps up to the higher age bracket alongside Punlok, who ended last season third on the ranking list.
In the boys U14 section, Leng Sarinreach, who had a good run in the recently concluded ITF/ATF 14 & Under Development Championship in Bangkok, continues to dominate the rest, but Chem Seyha, who has often been in the shadow of Sarinreach, is likely to add pep to the proceedings.
An interesting addition to this division is Sam Davith from the Holy Baby Orphanage in Koh Krabei. Davith, like Sarinreach, gained a lot of confidence from the recent Bangkok trip, where he could not make much of an impression but took away a lot of matchplay experience.
Since most of the top-tier players in the boys U12 flight have moved up an age group, there should be plenty to fight for, and one player likely to cause a flutter is Chhieu Chhaiya.
In nearly three years, Hour Sreypov has made winning a habit, and it is one she is unlikely to give up in the girls U18 division unless her WTA Future Stars teammate Ho Sreynoch makes enough of an improvement to shatter her unbeaten record.
The two girls have already been chosen to represent Cambodia in the Junior Fed Cup in March and the duel between the two is bound to keep the excitement alive.
The girls U14 category should easily be Eang Kunthea’s if she makes a serious bid, while Chhieu Chhaiya’s twin sister Chhieu Apsara will be the closest challenge to Tippi Dalle Grave in the girls U12 division.