The Junior Davis Cup and Fed Cup players heading to Sri Lanka next month spent the weekend in the coastal town of Kep, at a preparatory camp that stretched from intense on-court conditioning to outdoor adventures including open sea swimming and a range of physical workouts on the sandy beaches.
The three boys in the squad, Tep Timothy, Chheang Vannasith and Khleang Punlok, were joined by Leng Sarinreach, who had a good run in the recently-concluded ITF/ATF 14 and Under Development Championship in Bangkok.
The two girls making their debut in the Fed Cup, Hour Sreypov and Ho Sreynoch, had their first feel of the Kep Therapy.
The nation’s tennis teams regularly attend this camp before leaving for international events, a trend that began a few years ago.
From the outset, the players were faced with a mission not about strength or skill, but about courage and overcoming fear.
In keeping with this theme, they were taken in a speed boat 200 metres from the shore and were asked to jump into the sea.
Interestingly for some, it was their first plunge into open water having had no experience of swimming, but they were given life jackets to get to shore.
Following this water stunt was the beach assault, where the players were exposed to bootcamp like workouts including push-ups, crunches, burpees and volley drills in the sand to work their legs and make them burn in the process.
Out on the court at the Villa Romonea tennis facility in town, the players had two practice sessions with the workouts and drills specially designed to build their endurance levels.
Just after their second practice session, the players headed off to Wat Samaty, a popular pagoda, not so much for spiritual relaxation but to tackle the 200 steps to build up their leg muscles with core strengthening workouts.
At yesterday’s final session, the young male and female athletes played together to allow them to develop better on-court chemistry for mixed doubles.
The camp concluded with the players and coaches hiking up the switchbacks to the top of the Phnom Kep to visit a famous nunnery at the mountain top to offer traditional prayers.
“Our juniors entering the international stage for the first time is a significant happening and we would like to ensure the best preparation possible for both the boys and the girls teams,” said Tep Rithivit, secretary-general of Tennis Cambodia.
“Better bonding among the players was what were were aiming at and got in this two-day camp.”