Tennis: Fifteen-year-old Tenzin Singye Dorji becomes the youngest national tennis champion after winning his first national open championship in Thimphu yesterday.

The class 10 student of Changangkha middle secondary school and representing Punakha defeated a much more experienced player Jigme Sherab, 30, from Thimphu in straight sets at the finals of the 45th National Tennis Open Championship.

Tenzin started the game aggressively with powerful serves and quick movements. The first set saw a seesaw battle between the two players. It was Tenzin who took a lead of two games in the first set punishing Jigme while coming forward towards the net. Several unforced errors from Jigme also helped Tenzin acquire a comfortable lead in the first set.

However, it was Jigme’s experience that got him back in the game when he fought back from 0-40 to take the game, bringing the deficit to just a game. But the youngster was relentless and took the first set 6-4 within 30 minutes.

It seemed that the finals would go into a third and deciding set when Jigme Sherab took a convincing lead of 3-0 in the second set. However, unforced errors plagued Jigme’s game and Tenzin capitalised on the errors.

The youngster got back in the game with his mighty serves and swift movements. Tenzin won the next six games uninterruptedly to claim his first national championship.

“I was hoping to win this year because I’ve trained very hard for this competition,” said Tenzin. “Compared to most of my opponents, I was in a better form because I have been practising regularly.”

He said that after losing in the semi-finals last year, he was encouraged to perform better this year. “I hope I’ll play better in the upcoming Bhutan-India friendship competition.”

The runners-up of the match, Jigme Sherub who once coached Tenzin during some of his training sessions congratulated him for the victory and said Tenzin was the better man on the court.

“I am extremely happy to have played Tenzin in the finals,” said Jigme Sherub.  “He has grown as a player over the years and its good to see young players taking over the game. This should be the trend.”

Meanwhile, in the veteran’s category, 52-year-old Tshering Namgay defeated DP Mishra on Saturday. Tshering Namgay who is also the national head coach with the Bhutan Tennis Federation (BTF) said that it was an honour to represent his dzongkhag, Chhukha.

“I wanted to be a part of this championship since eight years ago. However, because of my responsibility as the head coach, I couldn’t be a part,” said Tshering Namgay adding that tennis has no age limit and people starting from age eight to 88 can comfortably enjoy the game.

In the men’s double category, Tenzin Singye Dorji and Nidup Gyeltshen defeated the pair of Colonel Damcho and Deepesh Chhetri on Saturday. In the women’s category Tandin Wangmo Dorji defeated Shusila Rai to win the competition on October 28.

More than 60 participants from eight dzongkhags took part in the nine-day tournament organised by BTF.

Younten Tshedup