Wed, 25 March 2015 H S Manjunath
Cambodia will take on Syria in the Opening Pool B tie today as the 2015 Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Group III competition gets under way at the outdoor hardcourts of the Kompleks Tun Razak Tennis Centre in Kuala Lumpur, the home base of the Lawn Tennis Association of Malaysia.
The official draw to determine the two four-team pools held yesterday saw Cambodia clustered with Syria, Vietnam and Turkmenistan in Pool B while Pool A comprises Hong Kong, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
The top two teams from the pool stage will get into the promotional bracket while the other four will play out relegation playoffs. The top two teams will move up to next year’s Group II while the bottom two teams will go down to Group IV.
In this compressed format, every team will have to play 12 rubbers in four days at a stretch that puts a huge premium on the fitness of the players.
Incidentally, Cambodia crossed path with Syria first in last year’s Tehran campaign and went down after putting up a stiff fight in the singles rubbers.
The country’s top player Bun Kenny, who has an impressive 11-2 win-loss singles record in three years of Davis Cup participation, will start out as the number one nomination but nonplaying captain Tep Rithivit has to make a choice between experienced Phalkun Mam, Long Samneang, who has played in dead doubles rubbers before but yet to figure in a live singles contest, and the fresh face in the team 15-year-old Delton Sophana Kim.
The captain is also faced with a challenge when it comes to doubles picks since Cambodia drew a blank in Tehran last year.
“No matter where we find ourselves in, we will fight every inch of the way. Our players are ready and eager to go. No tie is ever easy in Davis Cup and one rubber gets tougher than the other. We are determined to turn around last year’s defeat at the hands of Syria,” Rithivit told the Post after the draw was released.
“I believe this pool is very even for all the teams in it. We are the third seed in this pool and we will face Syria, who are the second seed. I strongly believe that if we have a good start we will have a great week ahead of us,” said national coach Braen Aneiros, who has been putting the players through their paces at the competition venue for the past three days.
The squad arrived in the Malaysian capital late Saturday. Over the next three days, the players got a good feel of the hard courts and the humidity.
Entertainment and gaming company NagaWorld is the main sponsor of the Davis Cup squad with GLF and Coca-Cola supporting the team as co-sponsors.