No stop­ping young champ

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT - By KRIS DANDO

He’s 15, re­turn­ing from an in­jury, and had a rowdy crowd bar­rack­ing ev­ery mis­take he made – but that didn’t stop Pratt Keera­sun­ton­pong.

The Tawa Col­lege ten­nis player took out the Col­lege Sport re­gional cham­pi­onships at the Re­nouf Cen­tre on Fe­bru­ary 27, an event that hosted the best un­der- 18 play­ers from across the cen­tral re­gion.

His op­po­nent in the fi­nal, from Scots Col­lege, was al­most 19 years old and had a parochial crowd be­hind him, Pratt says.

‘‘He’s in­side the top 1000 in the world for ju­niors, so it was a big test for me. The crowd were pretty loud, they were cheer­ing ev­ery dou­ble fault I made.’’

The match started dis­as­trously for Pratt, blasted off the court 6-0 in the first set. He broke early in the sec­ond set and held his nerve to win it 6-4.

Due to time con­straints they had to go to a su­per tie-breaker, mean­ing the first to 10 points would win the match and the ti­tle – Pratt took it 10-4.

‘‘It was more re­lief than any­thing else. I was so an­gry with my­self af­ter that first set that I had to just get off the court and re-set my­self. I fo­cused harder and didn’t make those er­rors.’’

Though he was the top seed for the tour­na­ment, Pratt was up against much older play­ers, but his ex­pe­ri­ence at the club level for Tawa/ Lyn­d­hurst and in overseas com­pe­ti­tions held him in good stead. He is un­beaten in Welling­ton club ten­nis, but is eas­ing back into the game af­ter a month-long in­jury lay­off.

‘‘I didn’t give my­self a huge chance to win [the Col­lege Sport event], so I was pretty happy.’’

Fly­ing high: Tawa Col­lege’s Pratt Keera­sun­ton­pong is pro­duc­ing top re­sults on the ten­nis cir­cuit.

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