May 31, 2016 Written by Tennis Cambodia
As nationals comes to a close, the beginning of a training regime resumes for four special players in our era. Ponlok Khleang, Sarinreach Leng, Sophon Sen and Sreynoch Ho are Cambodian’s top junior players selected to travel to the ITA/Asian Tennis Federation (ATF) 16 & Under Development Training Camp in Bangkok, Thailand this week. Players will undergo two weeks of training at ATF Training Center assisted by ATF’s coaching staff. Representing Cambodia and traveling coach, Laura Pola, who is originally joining the Cambodian coaching staff from Canada this year, will be in assistance to the camp’s training.
The ATF’s tennis development camp will be supporting and inviting developing tennis nations such as Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Bhutan, Myanmar, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives, India and many others.
The training camp provides a great opportunity for our players to get exposed to other top players of neighboring nations and the fort night training camp is far from a walk in the park. As the days will begin at 6:30am with scheduled breakfast following two hours of practice and fitness training in the morning and afternoons, players will end the day’s training at 8pm on several nights. All the players selected from each country are all in the elite training category.
Sarinreach Leng, 13 years old and coming out of the recent junior national tournament as a double crowned champion in the boys U14 and U18 category, he is undeniably the best player at his age and is proving to be among the top ranks in the U18 category way before his time. He’s very curious, always in search of improving his game and off the court, he’s the most approachable player at any site. With his friendly demeanor, Sarinreach is also highly competitive and doesn’t like giving up easy points to anyone. Sarinreach trains several days a week at the training center in Phnom Penh with Tennis Cambodian (TC) coaches and also at the National Training Center in Cambodian Country Club. As he is friends with all the other players traveling to the camp, Sarinreach says this time will be a little different for him as they will not be competing but training together. “Last time I traveled with Ponlok and Sophon to Vietnam, and now we are going to Thailand which will be awesome. And now that we are also traveling with the girls and a new coach, it will be fun as we get to experience different things.”
Sophon Sen, 15 years old and was previously crowned the junior national champion, he has proven himself time and time again that he’s a force to be reckoned with. Sophon is known as a very talented and skilled player in the nation. Sophon just started playing tennis in the TC grassroots programs in Kep Province a little over four years ago. Sophon was introduced the game outside of his dorm room in the orphanage as coaches came in with portable nets and rackets for the children to use during their break from work and classes. Since his introduction to the game, Sophon showed great promise in developing through the sport and in the short amount of time, he has already represented Cambodia in international tournaments in Vietnam and Thailand. This will be Sophon’s second time going to the training camp in Thailand. “I like the running and we do a lot of it every day there. I’m most excited about the fitness. I also like to meet new people and it will be fun,” Sophon said.
Ponlok Khleang, 15 years old, is as determined and level-headed as they come in competition play. Ponlok trains in the TC Center in Phnom Penh and he continues to show up to practices consistently and takes in everything he is given with such ease. Ponlok has represented TC in many junior Davis Cup tournament competitions in the past and he looks to keep improving his game to compete against the best players from other nations. Ponlok is no stranger to the training camp in Thailand as he has participated last year’s camp as well. Ponlok gives us a little insight to what he looks forward to at the camp and what he remembers most. “Lots of fitness before playing and running around the park on Sundays. They have a day for fun, but last year they let me play a tournament so I’m excited to try that fun day this year. I made a lot of friends and I don’t know if they will come this year, but I will meet new people again.” When asked, Ponlok’s favorite part of playing tennis are matches since he loves to know how good he is on a competitive level. For him, training helps him get better, but he can’t wait to get back out on the court and show everyone what he’s got in competition.
The fourth player representing Cambodia at the camp is Sreynoch Ho. In the last two junior national tournaments she has consistently made the finals of the girls U18 category and just running out of steam to take the big trophy home. This will be Sreynoch’s second year she travels to the camp and she looks forward to training among many other players. Sreynoch is the second sister to start playing tennis in her family, however has stuck to the sport and shown the nation she is a power hitter. Sreynoch was introduced to tennis while living in the orphanage in Kandal Procvince in 2009. Just recently, moving back home living with her mom and siblings she travels quite the distance several times a week to the TC training center in Phnom Penh and trains with our coaches there. “Sreynoch has recently been working on changing her forehand grip and we’ve been focusing a lot of attention with on-court movement these past few weeks,” said Laura, who has been working with Sreynoch as coach and hitting partner. “What a fantastic opportunity for all four of the players to travel together and be exposed to so many different coaches and players. I’m pretty curious to see what each of them will implement in their daily trainings afterwards.”
The training camp will begin June 5th and end July 18th. We will be updating from the Asian Tennis Center in Bangkok, Thailand all week long.