Cambodia dropped down to the lowest rung of the Davis Cup competition for the first time in four seasons after last Saturday’s 1-2 loss to Turkmenistan in the relegation playoff on the concluding day of the Asia Oceania Group III cycle at the Esteghlal International Tennis Academy in Tehran.
“We are terribly disappointed but not disheartened. We tried mighty hard to preserve our spot in Group III, which we had held for three years after our promotion on our debut back in 2012.
“There is no shame in going down to Group IV – it would have been a shame if we had not given our all like we did against Turkmenistan,” Cambodia’s non-playing captain Tep Rithivit said after the tie.
“Despite the setbacks we have had in what was one of the toughest campaigns we ever fought, we are still standing as one and we will reclaim our rightful place,” said Rithivit, who is also the secretary-general of Tennis Cambodia.
Cambodia earned the right to meet Turkmenistan in the battle for survival after beating Singapore 2-1 in the final Pool B tie on Friday.
Having finished fourth and fifth respectively in Pool B, Cambodia and Singapore were pushed into the relegation battles against Turkmenistan and Pacific Oceania, who found themselves in the bottom of the four-team Pool A.
Singapore were beaten by Pacific Oceania 3-0 and joined Cambodia as the two demoted from Group III. Both will compete in Group IV next year.
At the top of the groups, hosts Iran and Hong Kong won their promotion playoffs to gain entry to Group II. While Iran defeated Syria 2-1, Hong Kong bounced back from a match down to beat Lebanon by the same margin.
Turkmenistan youngsters Yuriy Roguskiy and Isa Mammetgulyyev won their singles rubbers with ease to give their side a winning 2-0 lead. While Roguskiy took a shade less than an hour to inflict a 6-3, 6-3 defeat on Tan Nysan, Mammetgulyyev was even more miserly in beating Bun Kenny 6-2, 6-1.
Turkmenistan pitched bench warmers Alexandr Ernepesov and Atlymyrat Gubanov in for the inconsequential doubles against Long Samneang and Tan Nysan. After losing the first set, the Cambodian pair began to combine well together and eventually posted a 3-6, 7-6, 6-4 win to make the ultimate scoreline look respectable.
For the first time in five years, Long Samneang was nominated to play a live singles rubber when Cambodia faced Singapore. Samneang fought all the way before going down 5-7, 6-3, 5-7 to Hao Yuan Ng.
Bun Kenny levelled the scores when he beat familiar foe Roy Hobbs 6-3, 6-4, and the Cambodian doubles pairing of Phalkun Mam and Tan Nysan by won their encounter against Shaheed Alam and Sherwin Foo 7-6 (11-9), 7-5 to give the Kingdom its one and only win in the week-long event.