Cambodia’s top-ranked junior Tep Timothy ended up as a losing finalist after a string of impressive victories in the Thammasat University Junior Tennis Tournament that concluded at the university campus in Nonthaburi at the weekend.
As a third-generation player from the famed Tep family, Timothy, son of Tennis Cambodia Secretary-General Tep Rithy and grandson of the legendary late Tep Khunnah, has expanded in scope and reach in his singles play.
Competing for the first time in a tournament abroad, the country’s Junior Davis Cupper overcame two Thai juniors who are ranked inside the top 100 in the country in the eight-player draw before reaching the final.
Played under the new modified match format of first-to four-games sets, Timothy was not given enough space or time to settle down by 77th-ranked Thai Junior Patcharapeem Sukanon, who won the final 4-0, 4-0. The score, however, concealed the fighting quality of rallies in which the Cambodian right-hander won tidy points.
“Timothy has been steadily growing in assurance on court and it was evident in this tournament. It is a good sign that he has started winning big matches and this performance should really bring him on a lot,” noted Tennis Cambodia’s Head of Junior Development Phalkun Mam, who was also in Bangkok attending an ITF Level II coaching course.
The absence of Timothy worked to the advantage of Leap Sovannary in the fourth tournament involving players from Phnom Penh and Kandal at the Cambodian Country Club courts on Sunday. The top four players in each age group from the tournament are now eligible to take part in the second and final national tournament next weekend.
Sovannary got the measure of Chheang Vannasith, Timothy’s Junior Davis Cup team-mate, 7-5, 6-2 in the final.
Leng Sarinreach was stretched to the full by Khleang Punlok in the boys under-16 singles final. Reach came back from a mid-match slip to record a 6-4, 5-7, 6-1 win to retain his No1 ranking.
Kandal province’s Koh Krabey Orphanage achieved a notable first by sending four girls under the age of 10 to compete in their first provincial tournament. Though the girls wore no shoes, there was no shortage of enthusiasm for the game as Holy Socheattra beat the other three.
In the boys under-14 group, Chhieu Chaya and Gabriel Lapeyre faced off in a rematch of the previous tournament final, but this time in the semifinals, Chaya took the match in straight sets, winning 4-1, 4-2. Unfortunately Chaya could not go all the way to claim the title and fell to Yagi Ryusei, a newcomer from Japan, 6-3, 6-2 in the final.