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Sugita is star attraction at tennis camp

Yuichi Sugita of Japan returns the ball to Guilherme Clezar of Brazil during the first match of their Davis Cup World Group playoff in Osaka on September 15. STR/JIJI PRESS/AFP
Yuichi Sugita of Japan returns the ball to Guilherme Clezar of Brazil during the first match of their Davis Cup World Group playoff in Osaka on September 15. STR/Jiji Press/AFP

Sugita is star attraction at tennis camp

Japan’s highest ranked tennis player after Kei Nishikori, Yuichi Sugita, will be one of the star attractions briefly joining the ongoing preseason training camp being jointly conducted by Cambodia’s National head coach Braen Aneiros and his mentor Robert Davis at the National Training Center in Phnom Penh.

Having served as technical director and national coach of Peru, Panama, Thailand, Indonesia and Mynamar, to name just a few, Davis has been a world reputed coach for over two decades and was until recently the technical adviser of strategic operations for Sport Singapore,

As Sugita’s personal coach, Cuban-born Aneiros, a former Panamanian Davis Cupper who has been in charge of the Cambodian national team since 2009, has seen the Japanese sensation climb steadily in the rankings to as high as 36 as of early October this year.

One of the nominees as ATP Coach of the Year, Aneiros was narrowly beaten to the accolade by Neville Godwin, a South African former player who turned coach and is now with exciting prospect Kevin Anderson.

With Cambodia’s Asia/Oceania Davis Cup Group III campaign just months away in Vietnam, Braen has roped in two of the national team members Bun Kenny and Long Samneang to a camp that includes Aisam Qureshi of Pakistan, who is currently ranked 31 in the ATP doubles, and the Ratiwatana twins from Thailand, Sanchai and Sonchat, who are in the top 100 doubles bracket.

Also joining in is Indonesia’s top player Christopher Rungkat, who is no stranger to Cambodia having spent long spells in both training with national players and competing in the Kingdom’s men’s Futures events. Rungkat is currently ranked 121 in doubles.

Two members of the Singaporean national team Shaheed Alam and Roy Hobbs complete the list of players attending the camp all with the intention of getting fighting fit for the ensuing season.

Crucial timing
This is the first time Tennis Cambodia has hosted four players within the top 150 in the ATP’s rankings, underlining the significance of this camp and the importance of training under such reputed coaches as Aneiros and Davis, both of whom have been working with these players over several seasons now.

The timing of the camp is also crucially important for predominantly doubles players like the Ratiwatana twins and Qureshi, who have set their sights firmly on next January’s Australian Open.

While the profile of the camp has been considerably boosted by the presence of these star players, its importance for locals can not be overstated.

“The opportunity for Cambodian players like Kenny and Samneang to train along side such strong players is indeed a great benefit, and even one of the country’s top juniors Tep Timothy was able to get into one of the training sessions, which I am sure would have done him a world of good,” noted Aneiros, who will once again be leading Cambodia’s charge as its head coach in the Group III cycle in Vietnam in April next year.

All eyes will be on Sugita today when he hits the court in the morning session. The winner of nine ATP Challenger titles will, however, travel with other players to Kep the following day to attend the wedding of Robert Davis before returning to the capital for another brief stint.

Pakistan star Qureshi, who it may be recalled contributed several sports wheelchairs to the players at the La Paloma Rehabilitation Center in Battambang two years ago as part of Cambodia’s wheelchair tennis program through his foundation Stop War Start Tennis, will train for a few more days in Phnom Penh along side Kenny and Samneang before leaving the Kingdom next week.

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