Wanawit Srirasa, Thailand's chief referee, praised Vietnam's young players following the opening matches of the on-going Tanimex Open 2011.
"I didn't expect them to play so boldly against competitors that many had considered superior," Wanawit told Thanh Nien Wednesday. "Some of the Vietnamese players, who participated just to gain international experience, ended up beating their rivals impressively."
Wanawit's comments certainly rang true in the case of Ly Hoang Nam, 14, who boldly bested his Malaysian competitor, Ariez Deen Heshaam, 2-1 during the opening match on Tuesday.
Heshaam was highly favored to win the match after his star performance at the 25th Southeast Asian Games in 2009. Heading into the opener, Heshaam had been ranked Malaysia's number two.
"I was surprised to see Nam's powerful forehands and backhands, causing a lot of trouble for his rival,"
Wanawit said. "Even when the Malaysian player won the second game to make it 1-1 and several people thought Nam would lose, the Vietnamese boy went on to make the Malaysian sweat it out in the deciding match.
"Playing on home soil was certainly an advantage; but it would not have been such exciting match if Nam hadn't put on such a good show."
The Thai ref described the Tanimex Tournament as a great opportunity for young and talented players like Nam to improve their skills. He hoped that those who played well would be encouraged to pursue their goal of becoming professional tennis players.
After upsetting Heshaam, Nam continued to perform well against veteran player Van Huu Nguyen Vu, yesterday (April 20). Although he lost straight sets to Nguyen Vu, Hoang Nam received further praise for his concerted effort.
The tournament wraps up this Saturday.
Some pundits have even come out and said that Nam gave a more impressive performance than the young Hoang Thien (Vietnam's Number One teenage tennis player) two years ago.
Nam's win left many hopeful that Vietnamese tennis would continue to flourish.