Thinley Namgay 

Three students from Thimphu represented Bhutan at the Asian Tennis Federation’s (ATF) Under (U)-12 Team Competition, which is scheduled between May 18 and 25 in Kathmandu, Nepal.  

Thirty-nine junior tennis players from seven countries—Bhutan, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives—participated in the tournament.  

Although Bhutan lost against the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and Nepal 3-0 each, coach Yonten Gyeltshen said the players contested well despite having less game experience. “The boys almost won against the Maldives.” 

With the loss of four straight games, Bhutan concluded  its competition. It was the international debut for the trio. 

The participants were Tenzin Dudu of  Dechencholing HSS,  Pelthop Wangyel Tshering of  Little Dragon School and Mipham Tshering of Druk School.   

The primary objective of this competition is to participate and let the boys gain exposure, experience, and new skills for future tournaments. 

“Participating in the tournament itself  is a great achievement as it provides lots of exposure and experience for our youths. Winning and losing is part of the game,” Yonten said. 

He said the boys trained for more than three months in Thimphu after the selection. “Bhutan Tennis Federation did the selection from Phuentsholing and Thimphu.” 

Yonten said the players from India and Pakistan were advanced, and it was challenging for all other countries to defeat them.  

All the participating countries are supposed to bring three boys and three girls each for the tournament. All other countries brought three girls each except Bhutan. Coach Yonten said the standard of the junior tennis girls was not up to expectations. 

According to Yonten, taking the participants to the tournament is challenging as it disrupts the academic sessions of the students. Moreover, he said the budget is another constraint. 

Bhutan has been participating in the tournament since 2017. 

In the final on May 24, India won against Pakistan 2-0. India and Pakistan booked the spot for the ITF’s U-12 Team Competition to be held in Kazakhstan later this year. 

Team Bhutan returned  on May 25.