ITF officer visits Kep, Siem Reap

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
ITF development officer Jonathan Stubbs demonstrates a few points before the children of Sala Knaa in Siem Reap begin their weekly Sunday in-school competition. tennis cambodia

Tennis Cambodia recently played host to Jonathan Stubbs, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) development officer for South, Southeast and East Asia. Following his visit to Vientiane, Laos to check up on their current programmes, he arrived into Phnom Penh on Friday, March 29.

Immediately upon his arrival, he and Tennis Cambodia technical director Phalkun Mam departed for the coastal city of Kep to see the tennis programme running at Don Bosco Technical School, and also to visit the future site of Tennis Cambodia’s Kep Tennis Training Centre.

The centre, which will feature five courts and a clubhouse with a gym and locker rooms, is being constructed with the help of an ITF Facility Grant that was approved by the ITF Facility Grants committee in November of last year.

Following Kep, Mam and Stubbs flew to Siem Reap on Saturday night, and on Sunday morning took a look at Siem Reap’s weekly Sunday Comps.

Tennis Cambodia’s programme in Siem Reap is one of the younger ones in the Kingdom, but also happens to be the biggest in terms of grassroots.

Every Sunday, each of the seven government school programmes that Tennis Cambodia North West are teaching in meet at their respective schools to play matches with the other students within their tennis programme.

The various programmes brought Mam and Stubbs from the Svaydongkum area in Siem Reap all the way up to a school called Sala Prey, which borders the Angkor Wat temple complex for a truly magical setting.

Due to it being Khmer Holiday for the government schools, on Monday April 1, Mam and Stubbs witnessed Siem Reap’s first Junior Tennis Initiative (JTI) First Steps Tennis Tournament, which was an interschool competition between all of Siem Reap’s government school programmes.

The tournament featured 70 participants from the seven government schools where Tennis Cambodia teaches in Siem Reap.

“My visit to Cambodia was very successful and enjoyable,” Stubbs said of his recent visit. I was able to see various Tennis Cambodia programmes around the country and am very impressed by the dedication, drive and commitment of the coaches, administrators and leaders of the organisation.

“Over the next few years, I think we will see a gradual and impressive development of the game in Cambodia especially at the grassroots level. In time this can translate into players capable of performing at a high level internationally.”

Tennis Cambodia secretary general Rithivit Tep added: “We were very happy to have played host to Jonathan on his first development visit to Cambodia. As we move forward with our selected goals and targets, it’s always nice to have outside viewpoints, and especially from a highly respected individual among the ITF like Jonathan."

“We will go forward as planned and now also with the input and advice of the ITF we will adjust as needed to make sure our aims stay aligned with those of the ITF.”

Decathlon Cambodia partnership

The four pillars that the ITF keep in mind when observing programmes of the different national associations are programmes, events, coach education and facilities.

“Programmes are divided into two smaller sections – performance and participation – and, though our grassroots are booming, we can increase the performance of the players in our programmes simply by exposing them to increased participation in competition,” said Tennis Cambodia technical director Mam.

“We are happy to announce that we are going into partnership with Decathlon Cambodia starting in May, to host a junior and an open level tournament each month until the end of the year for our first ever sponsored circuit for Tennis Cambodia.”