In keeping with tradition, the national tennis team has travelled to the coastal town of Kep for a week-long training and fitness camp in preparation for next month’s Asia Oceania Group IV Davis Cup campaign in Bahrain.
First introduced in 2012 before Cambodia’s historic Cup debut in Doha as “Kep Therapy” by non-playing captain and secretary-general of Tennis Cambodia Tep Rithivit, the team routinely seeks the diverse off-court training options the hills and the beach sands uniquely offer.
Of great significance this year was the hiring by the federation of fitness coach Louis Imam, born in France to a Cambodian father and a Vietnamese mother, to help the team’s members cope with the physical and mental challenges a compressed Davis Cup format throws up, where four-player squads play at least five best-of-three ties through the week.
The main thrust of the off-court fitness regimen was on relaxation exercises, with the focus on breathing and the contracting of certain body parts.
The intense physical work-outs that regularly followed included squats, press-ups and long runs to strengthen core fitness. To help them keep a relaxed state of mind, the players were encouraged to perform the relaxation routines away from the tennis court.
On court, the players were put through sharp footwork drills and circuits. “I was very happy to be associated with the national team even though it was a short stint. I look forward to working with the team later this year for Malaysian SEA Games preparation,’’ said 50-year-old Iman, who is based in Ho Chi Minh City.
At the end of the camp yesterday, the Federation and the players expressed the hope that the special bonding they were able to achieve during the camp could be carried into the competition.
The town of Isa in Bahrain will host this year’s Group IV cycle from April 3 to 8 involving 11 teams which will be split into two groups of six and five. In contrast to the rather unfamiliar clay courts of Iran last year, Cambodia will be relieved to see a return to hard courts in Isa.