Portage tennis player wins two titles at Manitoba Junior Open
Shawn Sophasath, right, alongside Tennis Manitoba director of tennis development Jared Connell, middle, and runner-up Zachary Baron after the 2015 Manitoba Junior Open final on July 9 at the Winnipeg Lawn Tennis Club. (submitted photo/Sam Unrau)
A local tennis product emerged as king of the court at the 2015 Manitoba Junior Open.
Portage la Prairie native Shawn Sophasath won the boys U18 (under-18) singles event and teamed up with Winnipeg’s Monika Popovic to earn a second title, the U18 mixed doubles crown, at the 2015 Manitoba Junior Open on July 7 to 9 at the Winnipeg Lawn Tennis Club.
Sophasath,14, clinched the U18 boys title with straight sets win over Zachary Baron 6-4, 6-4 in the July 9 final. That same day he and Popovic defeated Maya Arksey and Baron 7-6(4), 6-4 in the mixed doubles final.
“It means quite a bit, it’s the highest level of junior tennis in Manitoba,” said Sophasath. “It’s good to see that I’m at that level.”
The No. 1 ranked U14 player in Manitoba toppled Connor Davies 6-4, 6-1 to open the boys singles tournament on July 7 before downing Shrey Gupta 6-3, 6-0 a day later to reach the final.
In U18 mixed doubles, Sophasath and Popovic rallied after dropping the opening set of their semifinal against Marcello Audino and Reece Carter on July 8 to win 3-6, 6-0, 10-8.
Sophasath has enjoyed success on the courts for years. The Portage Tennis Club product will make his second appearance at the junior nationals this year. The pure competition that is a tennis match excites Sophasath, who has been playing the game since he was four-years-old.
“It’s very competitive, I like rising above others. It takes a lot of defeat going through it too, but it’s something learn from,” he said. “I like that it’s a solo sport for the most part playing singles. You don’t have people who will rely on you so you don’t have anyone who you’ll let down except for yourself.”
The long term goal he’s driving towards is earning a U.S. scholarship to play NCAA tennis. In the shorter term, Sophasath has his sights set on the Western Canada Summer Games, which begin Aug. 7 in Fort McMurray, Alta.