Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Agil wins singles gold in Laos

Former national champion Syed Agil Syed Naguib upset the form book at the Asean University Games by clinching the men’s singles gold medal in Laos yesterday.
Syed Agil defeated Indonesia’s Davis Cupper Aditya Harry Sasongko 6-3, 6-0 at the National Sport Complex.
En route to the final, he defeated Tito Farulian Hutauruk 6-2, 6-2 and upset Thailand’s World No 1,681 Kirati Siributwong 3-6, 7-5, 6-2.
Jawairiah Noordin managed one silver (women’s team with Shirley Ling) and two bronze (women’s singles and mixed doubles with Syeg Aqil).
Malaysia added two more bronze through Faiz Said-Afiq Abd Nasir (men’s doubles) and Adelle Boey-Syarifah Syafeenaz Syed Azmir (women’s doubles).

Monday, 17 December 2012

A birthday title triumph for Ariez

courtesy of

ARIEZ Elyaas Deen Heshaam earned an early birthday gift when he captured the men's singles title in the BMW Malaysian National Circuit Masters Finals at National Tennis Centre in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
Ariez, who turns 19 on Dec 24, avenged his defeat to Si Yew Ming at last year's Masters final by overcoming the veteran 6-3, 6-4 in the final match of the round robin event.
The Sarawak-born had earlier recorded wins over Sean Yip (6-1, 6-0) and Corneil Spaapen (6-0, 6-0) in the four-player championship group.
Except for Yew Ming and Ariez, the men's competition, however, had a weakened field in the absence of Nazim Khan, the national No 1 by virtue of being ranked 1,474 on the ATP Tour.
Syed Agil Syed Naguib, Ahmad Deedat Razak and veteran Abdul Hazli Zainuddin all either did not qualify or withdrew.
However, credit to Ariez Elyaas, a Davis Cupper for his impressive win over Yew Ming as he worked hard throughout the season to become the national champion.
In the women's event, Aslina Chua proved her mettle by bagging the title with wins over Alyssa Boey (6-0, 6-3), R. Archnaah (6-1, 6-0) and Ti Jia Wei (6-3, 6-2).
The 16-year-old earned a qualifying round wild card for next year's BMW Malaysian Open for the win.
S. Theiviya, who won two titles on the circuit this season, along with Choo Lyn Yuen and Jawairiah Noordin, were among the notable absentees.
Theiviya's father S. Selvarajoo, a former national champion, said his daughter was down with fever a day before the start of the tournament.
"Theiviya had participated in two ITF events in Indonesia before falling sick," said Selvarajoo.

ALL ROUND ROBIN (All singles)

Men: 1 Ariez Elyaas Deen Heshaam, 2 Si Yew Ming, 3 Sean Yip, 4 Corneil Spaapen, 5 Low Kar Win, 6 Colin Wong, 7 Bryan Lim, 8 Corneil Spaapen.Women: 1 Aslina Chua, 2 Alyssa Boey, 3 R. Archnaah, 4 Ti Jia Wei.

Boys' Under-16: 1 Kaoy Hao Sheng, 2 Talhah Rahizam, 3 Sheikh Ameer Sheikh Ahmad, 4 Tan Zu Zinyang, 5 Chin Yen Tong, 6 Ranveer Singh, 7 Rohaizat Azhop, 8 Nor Faezzam Said, 9 Saiful Azry Shamsuddin, 10 Khairil Anas Rahim.Under-14: 1 Alvin Teng, 2 Ryan Lee, 3 Azrul Ekhsan Azman, 4 Naufal Siddiq Kamaruzzaman, 5 Wan Muhd Fakhrul Iman Saiful, 6 Satveer Singh, 7 Adam Syafiq, 8 Danial Ahmad Farid, 9 Ulwan Soufi Usop.

Girls' Under-16: 1 Yussyazlin Nabila, 2 Nurin Nabila Roslan, 3 Michelle Khoo, 4 Vivecca Dharni.
Under-14: 1 Loo Shi Pei, 2 Suhana Sofia, 3 Aida Hereena, 4 Nur Hazira Hamidan, 5 Linda Liang, 6 Nurul Aminah Zamzury, 7 Juliana Shalini, 8 Shasha Naomi Nair, 9 Elysia Wan, 10 Aznor Qistina.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Caroline to debut in WTA Malaysian Open

Courtesy of

FORMER women’s world No 1 Caroline Wozniacki will be making her debut at the BWM Malaysian Open next year while Hsieh Su-Wei returns to defend her title at the tournament which also moves to a new venue.
  Caroline and Su-Wei will be competing for a total of US$235,000 in prize money for a 32-player draw in the singles and 16-pairs for the doubles events on Feb 25-Mar 3 at the Royal Selangor Golf Club (RSGC).
  Now ranked 10th in the world, Caroline ended the regular season making the finals of her last tournaments — winning in Moscow for her 20th WTA Tout title but losing in Sofia.
  The Dane, who was No 1 in October 2010, is eager to make her first appearance in Kuala Lumpur.
   “I am looking forward to my first visit to Malaysia and meeting my fans from the region. The Malaysian Open was become an important event on the WTA Tour and I feel honoured to be part of it in 2013. I look forward to competing with Malaysia’s and Asia’s best players,” said Caroline, 22, in a statement.
  Caroline courted controversy at an exhibition event in Sao Paolo last weekend when she impersonated rival Serena Williams by padding her top and shorts to appear large-chested and have a large rear end, a prank that was lambasted by several media outlets.
  Taiwan’s Su-Wei, a surprise winner last year, hopes to become the first players to successfully defend the Malaysian Open title.
  “It's always good to come back to a place where I won a tournament,” said the world No 25 Su-Wei.
  Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the tournament patron, announced that Aslina Chua, 16, has been handed a wild card into the qualifying draw after winning the 2012 BMW Malaysian National Circuit.
  “I have been briefed that BMW’s commitment to the sport of tennis is not just at international level here but at the local level as well where they recently concluded a local tournament, the BMW Malaysian National Circuit, where over 600 aspiring tennis player competed over four legs of open competition, which anyone over the age of 14 was eligible for entry.
  “I am gievn the privilege of announcing that the winner of the circuit is Aslina Chua, who is now eligible for one of the wild cards for the BMW Malaysian Open qualifier,” said Dr Mahathir at the tournament launch at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
  The fourth edition of the tournament will take place at RSGC after being held at the Bukit Kiara Equestrian and Country Resort the last three years.

Top seed Aslina captures women’s Open tennis title

PETALING JAYA: Aslina Chua proved her mettle by winning the women’s Open title in the BMW Malaysian National Circuit Masters tennis competition.

The 16-year-old sealed her victory after defeating Alyssa Chua – her third straight win in the round-robin format – at the Tun Razak Tennis Complex in Jalan Duta yesterday.

Aslina was in complete control and won 6-0, 6-3. In another match, R. Archnaah beat Ti Jia Wei 6-2, 6-4.

Meanwhile, veteran Si Yew Ming, Ariez Elyaas, Sean Yip and Corneil Spaapen will fight for top honours in the final round robin of the men’s Open tomorrow.

Bryan Lim, Wan Abd Muiz, Colin Wong and Low Kar Win will face each other in the consolation draw to complete the top 8 standings.-

Weekend warrior turns champion

NSTP CEO Mohammad Azlan Abdullah (second from left), The eCEOs CEO Jailani Mustafa (second from right) with the winner Lembaga Tabung Haji senior general manager Mohd Hisham Harun (left) at the CEO Celebrity Charity Tennis at the Jalan Duta Sports Complex yesterday. Pic by Sharul Hafiz Zam

TENNIS was just a once weekly exercise for Tabung Haji Board senior general manager of corporate finance, Mohd Hisham Harun, until he discovered he wasn't a bad competitor recently.
The CEO & Celebrity Charity Tennis event at the National Tennis Complex in Jalan Duta saw Hisham, 44, emerge overall winner of the fourth edition.
"I normally just play tennis to keep fit, at least once a week. But then I got invited to play in this tournament through a friend and I thought since it was for a good cause, to raise money for charity, I'd give it a try," said Hisham.
"I actually had some appointments today (yesterday), so I tried to pull out of the tournament at the last minute, but the organisers said I could not do that as the draw had already been made.
"So maybe it was a blessing in disguise. I'm quite surprised myself.
"Anyway, it was all in good fun and for a good cause, so I enjoyed it. Definitely I'd like to come back next year."
Hisham scored a total of 23 points from five wins and one draw under the special format that saw the 26 participants drawn with five different partners, and each played five sets of six games. The points are the number of games won.
The fourth edition of the event saw organisers New Straits Times and eCEOs Sdn Berhad raise a total of RM64,000 for the NSTP Charity Fund.
Funds raised will go towards aid for young Malaysians in need of treatment for heart problems, cancer, or for the fitting of artificial limbs.
NSTP chief executive officer Mohd Azlan Abdullah said the return of the event, after a one-year lapse, brought with it an encouraging response from participants and donors.
"We had initially targeted to raise RM60,000 through this event and eventually we raised RM64,000, which is the second highest after the RM67,000 we raised in the first year of the event in 2008," said Mohd Azlan.
"We've also got very positive feedback from the participants who wanted this event to continue, so we are definitely looking at having it again next year."

RESULTS: 1 Mohd Hisham Harun 23 pts, 2 Johnson Koh 22, 3 Keld Kristiansen 22, 4 Devan Pillay 21, 5 Paul Poh 20, 6 Richard Curtis 20, 7 Abdul Halim Md Lassim 18, 8 Eugene Yong 18, 9 Mohd Azlan Abdullah 16, 10 Angela Lian 15, 11 Soo Kui Jien 15, 12 Muhd Iqbal Sulaiman 14, 13 Zainal Abidin Mohd Ali 14, 14 Abu Bakar Atan 13, 15 Jojo Struys 13, 16 Yusli Mohamed Yusoff 13, 17 Paul Jones 11, 18 Hasni Mohamad 10, 19 Seelan Paul 10, 20 Jailani Mustafa 9, 21 Mohd Ridza Mohd Abdulla 8, 22 Mohd Ariff Mohd Noor 8, 23 Adriana Aris 6.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Alvin smashes a double win

KUCHING: Alvin Teng added yet another feather to his cap when he registered a double success in the Sarawak Junior Age Group Tennis Masters at Sarawak Lawn Tennis Association (SLTA) tennis centre last Sunday.

The 13-year-old student from SMK Jalan Arang competed in the round-robin league for Boy’s Under-18 and emerged the champion after beating all his eight opponents.

In the Boy’s/Girl’s Under-14 doubles, Alvin paired up with Goh Xing to beat Hanif Pauzi and N Khaidir 8-0 to lift the title.

The runner-up of the Boy’s Under-18 singles was Isaac Law who recorded six wins and two losses, 0-8 to Alvin and 2-8 to Kenneth Tan respectively while Gregory Tan was third with five wins.

In the Boy’s doubles contest, Kenneth Tan and Sean Chin were victorious after beating Dennis and Zahid E in the semi-finals and Gregory Tan-Goh Tik Xin 8-6 in the final.

The Boy’s Under-14 singles title went to Aiman Hamdan who beat Charles R Tony 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the final.

Meanwhile, Jimmy Liong won all his nine matches in the Boy’s/Girl’s Under-10 round-robin league to emerge the champion.

In second place was Mohd Daniel Johan Ariff who had eight wins and third was Mitchel Brapul Tidan with seven wins.

The Boy’s/Girl’s Under-10 title was won by Faridudin and Sufri after they beat Mitchell Brapul Tidan-Liam Saging Lisu 7-8 (10-6) in the final.

A total of 46 players from Kuching, Sibu and Miri took part in the two-day tournament.

SLTA president Dato Patrick Liew closed the event and gave away the prizes.

According to him, the participants were the top players in their respective age groups in their divisional meets.

“This is a very good platform for the juniors to display their skills against each other and also for us to select potential players to be groomed for future competitions like Sukma,” he added.-

Aiman’s tennis adventure on the ascent

KUCHING: Rising young tennis talent Mohd Aiman Hamdan is carving quite an impression on the courts around the state these days, winning titles while helping his association, the Bumiputera Tennis Association of Sarawak (PTBS) in their quest for developing tennis in the community.

Despite all the honours that have come his way, all the top billings that he has recorded, nothing will compete with that moment recently when he won the Boy’s Under-14 singles title at the Sarawak Junior Age Group Tennis Masters last Sunday.

In an exclusive interview with The Borneo Post, Aiman’s father Hamdan Mos who is also his personal coach commented that his son aspires to be a tennis great one day and at the tender age of 11-years-old, Aiman has shown signs of heading the right direction.

“Aiman has shown that he is passionate and is hungry for more titles. I too hoped that I can provide him with adequate training and assistance that Aiman needed for as a father, I only want the best for him,” commented Hamdan.

Apart from the Sarawak Junior Age Group Tennis Masters, Aiman had also participated at the 2012 Genting-Selangor International Junior Open Tennis Championships last month where he finished the tournament at a commendable 10th place in the tournament.

Aiman commented that the recent experience gained and competition exposure in Peninsular Malaysia is indeed valuable. It made him a better player and hopes that he will get more competitive exposures in the future.

Not willing to let his recent achievement distract him, Aiman revealed that he continues to train hard in preparation for his next tournament.

“I am thankful to my family, coaches and PTBS for what they have done for me. I have good trainers and I can only pay them back with my hard work and achievements,” Aiman added.

One of Aiman’s ambitions is also to represent the state in Sukma. He hopes that he will be given the chance to represent the state in the near future.

“Winning medals for Sarawak in tennis is also important for me. It is an ambition that I am working hard on and I know I can only earn the call-up by doing well in my games,” he said.

Aiman’s role of honour in 2012 includes winning the Kuching Age Group, state MSSS Championship, YB Fadillah Cup and Samarahan Convo Cup.

At the end of the interview, his father and coach Hamdan revealed that he is looking for sponsors to help his son advance in his tennis career development as Aiman has proven himself to be one of the state’s brightest prospects in tennis.-

PH soft netters win in Malaysia

THE Philippine soft tennis men and women teams scored victories in contrasting fashion to capture the major titles in the recent 2012 Southeast Asian Soft Tennis Federation Open and Junior Championships at the Likas Sports Complex in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia.
Joseph Arcilla, last year’s World Cup bronze medalist, powered the PH men’s squad past Korea, 2-1, for first place honors, while recent Mungyeong Korea International semifinalists Bien Zoleta led the domination over Malaysia, 3-0, to capture the women’s crown.
PSTA president Col. Jeff Tamayo lauded the performance of the local players and also congratulated Soft Tennis Malaysia head Johnson Koh and Sabah Soft Tennis chief KK Chin for successfully hosting the event.
“The presence of the top collegiate soft tennis players from Korea is an indication that the level in Southeast Asia is improving. I wish to thank international president Mr. Park Sang Ha for sending the Korean team,” said Tamayo.
Arcilla leaned on reliable teammates Jomar Arcilla, Mikof Manduriao, Jopy Mamawal and Davis Alano; while Zoleta was joined in the winners podium by veterans Cheryl Macasera and Deena Cruz together with greenhorns Chynna Mamawal and Denden Peralta in the trip supported by the Philippine Olympic Committee, Philippine Sports Commission and soft tennis patron BGEN Dr. Antonio L. Tamayo.-

Jailani can't wait to score

IN what will be his third appearance at the CEO and Celebrity Charity Tennis tournament this year, eCEOs chief executive officer Jailani Mustafa is looking to bank on his experience to excel at the Dec 9 event.
Jailani, whose company is also the co-organisers of the competition, said he is targeting an improved performance over his mid-table finishes at the 2009 and 2010 editions.
"Having played more singles than doubles since I finished school, competing here in my first two years was certainly an eye-opener," said Jailani. "I have learnt a number of tips and tricks along the way.
"Doing well at this tournament is more about utilising well-placed, angled shots and mixing the pace than it is about power.
"Winning it overall will be tough with the high quality of players competing this year. There are also elements which may be out of my control.
"However, I am in good shape having been playing weekly at Kelab Golf Negara Subang, so I feel I have a chance to do well this year."
Jailani, who in 1984 helped the Federal Territories to a third-place finish in doubles competition at the Malaysian School Sports Council (MSSM) championships, said it was the enjoyable atmosphere of the tournament which inspired him to play a bigger role in the event.
"I really enjoyed my experience playing here in 2009 and 2010. It is a great way to enjoy the sport while making friends and contributing to charity.
"I really liked the idea (of charity through sports) and decided to do more for the cause which is why we are joint organisers of the event this year."
After first being held in 2008, the CEO and Celebrity Charity Tennis is making a return after a one-year lapse.
Players will play five doubles matches each with different partners and those who accumulate the most points will be declared the winners.
Each player will have to contribute a minimum of RM1,000 as participation fee while companies wanting to become corporate donors must purse RM5,000 to have their logos in the tournament's publicity materials.
The last edition in 2010 raised RM61,160.

Trio ready to serve

Adriana Aris (centre) shares a light moment with Abu Bakar Atan (left) and Seelan Paul at Sri Pentas in Bandar Utama yesterday. Pic by Effendy Rashid

MEDIA Prima Berhad personalities Adriana Aris, Abu Bakar Atan and Seelan Paul are raring to do their part for a good cause at the CEO and Celebrity Charity Tennis tournament at the National Tennis Centre in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday.
Adriana, 41, NT7's news operations and creative marketing manager, said she felt compelled to take part in the event despite usually not having much time for the sport due to her busy daily schedule.
"I am more of a recreational player and usually would not be interested in joining tournaments but playing tennis for charity really struck a chord with me," said Adriana, who anchors the channel's 7 edition news.
Seelan, Media Prima Radio Networks' chief executive officer, said he was looking forward to enjoying the game and making new friends.
"This will be my fourth time playing in the tournament and I can say I have always enjoyed the friendly atmosphere at the event,"said the 38-year-old, who is also Media Prima Television Networks chief strategy officer.
TV3's sports personality Abu Bakar Atan, who in his formative years in the sport sparred with former national players V. Selvam and R. Ramachandran in his hometown of Port Dickson, will arguably provide the strongest challenge for the title from the Media Prima trio.
Abu Bakar, 50, said he will be wielding his trusty racquet given to him by another former national player, Adam Malik, after his commendable run to the quarter-finals of the Salem Open ATP Tour championships in Kuala Lumpur in 1994.
"Despite it being quite old now, it has been my favourite racquet through the years and I will be depending on it once again this week," said Abu Bakar, who is Primeworks sports division head of production.
After first being held in 2008, the CEO and Celebrity Charity Tennis is making a return after a one-year lapse.
Players will play five doubles matches each with different partners and those who accumulate the most points will be declared the winners.
Each player will have to contribute a minimum of RM1,000 as participation fee while companies wanting to become corporate donors must purse RM5,000 to have their logos in the tournament's publicity materials.-

Jojo worried about her serve

JOJO Struys loves to play tennis with the guys as it brings out the best in her.
"I like playing with the guys as they hit the ball a lot harder. I used to play a lot of tennis but now I play whenever I can due to my busy schedule. I will start by practising with the guys soon," said Jojo, TV host, producer and model.
Jojo, however, hopes she will be able to improve her serve before the CEO & Celebrity Charity Tennis on Dec 9.
"My serve is not very good but my forehand game has got better. I need, however, to improve on it. I hope my doubles partners will be patient with me during the competition," she said.
The 37-year-old was also a talented runner in her teens in Singapore.
"I was the national 3,000 metres champion in Singapore. I have always been active in sports. Currently, I indulge in dancing and also do a bit of running," she said.
On the charity tournament, Jojo said she feels honoured to be one of the invitees.
"It is a great way to contribute to charity. I hope to have a fun time. It is my third appearance in this event," she said.
The event, scheduled for the National Tennis Centre in Kuala Lumpur, will be played on a one-set format where a player will rotate with different partners and compete in five rounds. The individual with the highest accumulated points will be declared the winner.
NST and eCEOs Sdn Bhd are joint organisers of the fourth edition of the event while Dunlop, Mohamed Ridza & Co, Petra Energy Berhad, Cahya Mata Sarawak Berhad, Mudajaya Group Berhad and the Lawn Tennis Association of Malaysia are the official partners.-

Young hopefuls get a headstart

                         The beginners going through a volley drill at the grassroots tennis clinic

SEREMBAN: CHILDREN under eight years old ruled the courts at a tennis clinic held at the Paroi Youth and Sports Complex recently.
Over 130 children from 15 primary schools in Seremban attended the event organised Negri Sembilan Lawn Tennis Association (NSLTA), Negri Sembilan Education Department (JPNS) and Negri Sembilan State Sports Council (MSNNS).
During the day-long clinic, the children learnt basic skills of mini tennis such as coordination, ball sense, balance, serve, forehand and backhand.  
The aim of the clinic was to introduce tennis to children who are raw talents and beginners.
In addition, it was also used to spot talents based on their agility, reflexes, intelligence and good ball sense.
By their children’s keen interest and excitement on the courts, parents were also introduced to the sport of tennis.
Eight year old Nur Ain Nadhirah Adnan said: “I have been playing tennis for three years.
“While meeting many of my friends here, I learnt volley, backhand and forehand.
“I love to watch Maria Sharapova and Roger Federer in action on television.” 
Pint sized Anisa Humairah Abdul Halim, 7, said: “I learnt to adjust my strokes according to the speed of the ball. 
“I have been playing tennis for only four months.” 
Clinic coordinator Azam Baba said there was no shortage of talent at the grassroots level.
“Through exhibition matches we showed the participants, children as young as seven and eight
years old could play competitive tennis.
“Mini tennis is an affordable game whereby it can be played on any even surface in places such as supermarkets, public halls and sports courts.   
“For next year NSLTA is planning mini tennis camps and coaching clinics starting in January in Jempol, then move on to other districts.”-

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Top juniors for Penang Open

The Penang Open International Age-Group Tennis Championships, which starts on Monday, will see more than 300 local and international players in-action for honours and ranking points.
The tournament, organised by the  Penang Lawn Tennis Association (PLTA), will be divided into eight categories — boys’ and girls’ Under-10, Under-12, Under-14 and Under-16 singles and doubles.
Singapore have registered 63 players followed by Japan (18), South Africa (16), South Korea (13), Indonesia (11), Thailand (nine), Uzbekistan (five), the Philippines (three) and Hong Kong (one).
Chaiyaward Phetthani Am and Koay Hao Sheng (Perlis); Imran Daniel Hazli, Talhah Rahizam and Sheikh Ameer Abdullah Shikh (all Selangor); Keenan Kam and Ariana Muralidharan (both Kuala Lumpur); and Loo Shi Pei and Michelle Khoo Li Sha (both Penang) are among the local participants.
According to PLTA, most of the foreign participants have Asian and international junior ranking points.

Michelle sails to title

GEORGE TOWN: TOP singles player Michelle Khoo Li Sha was in her element as she steamrolled her opponents to   clinch the Penang State Closed Junior Age Group Tennis Championship Girls' Under-18 singles title recently.

The state's Malaysia Games elite trainee and the competition's top seed was in top form as she thrashed second seed Zian Kim Khoo Xin Ying 6-0, 6-0 in the final at the Penang Sports Club Tennis hub here recently.

In the semi-finals, the 15-year-old St Georges Girls School student, who is the No 1 after the state's top player Jawariah Noordin cut ties with Penang to play for another state, whipped Samantha Lee Czen Shing 6-0, 6-0.

Johnson Ooi Jing Wuu was the only player to retain his title, winning the Boys' Under-18 singles and doubles titles.

In the singles, which was a repeat of last year's semi-finals, Jing Wuu thrashed Ahmad A'Ql Ahmad Nizam 6-1, 6-1. In the other last four match, Chia Chen Dong beat Matthias Kok Xin Zhe 6-4, 7-6, (7-4).

Jing Wuu defeated Chen Dong 6-3, 7-5 (8-6) in the final.

In the doubles, Jing Wuu and partner Xin Zhe defeated Heng Hui Jing-Tan Hai Him 6-1, 6-2 in the final.

The three-day annual tournament with nine age-group categories was organised by the Penang Lawn Tennis Association (PLTA).

The unique aspect of the competition was that all matches were played on grass courts, which has become a rarity in the country. The PSC tennis hub consists of nine grass, eight artificial and two hard courts.

RESULTS -- Boys' Under-10 singles s-finals: Asshwinmurthi Jayaganthan bt Vivek Balakrishnan 8-6; Paul Teoh Kai Jie bt Neelan Rajoo 8-2; Final: Paul Teoh Kai Jie bt Asshwinmurthi Jayaganthan 3-6, 6-3 (7-4).

Under-14 singles s-finals: Brian Lee How Cheng bt Lee Huang Yi 2-6, 6-4 (8-6); Amit Singh Atwal bt Noeh Khai Keat 7-5, 2-6 (7-4); Final: Amit Singh Atwal bt Brian Lee How Cheng 6-3, 6-4.

Doubles s-finals: Lee Huang Yi-Brian Lee How Cheng bt Neoh Khai Keat-Setthasorn Ooi Zhi Yang 8-2; Amit Singh Atwal-Maayez Yousuf Imam bt Chan Kai Lun-Ugene Ooi U Jin 8-1; Final: Lee Huang Yi-Brian Lee How Cheng bt Amit Singh Atwal-Maayez Yousuf Imam 3-6, 6-4 (8-6)

Under-18 singles s-finals: Johnson Ooi Jing Wuu bt Ahmad A'Ql Ahmad Nizam 6-1, 6-1; Chia Chen Dong bt Matthias Kok Xin Zhe 6-4, 7-6, (7-4); Final: Johnson Ooi Jing Wuu bt Chia Chen Dong 6-3, 5-7 (8-6).

Doubles s-finals: Johnson Ooi Jing Wuu-Matthias Kok Xin Zhe bt Kuhan Ravintharan-Keshen Naidu 8-1; Heng Hui Jing-Tan Hai Him w/o Chia Chen Dong-Thum Wei Sern; Final: Johnson Ooi Jing Wuu-Matthias Kok Xin Zhe bt Heng Hui Jing-Tan Hai Him 6-1, 6-2.

Girls' Under-10 singles: 1 Bharthie Murugan, 2 Madeleine Khoo Li Ying, 3 Chuah Jo Yee.

Under-14 singles s-finals: Loo Shi Pei bt Christine Vong Su Yen 6-4, 6-4; Cherylene Tan Sui Ling bt Sabrina Gee Zhen Hzui 6-1, 6-3; Final: Loo Shi Pei bt Cherylene Tan Sui Ling 6-1, 6-3.

Doubles s-finals: Loo Shi Pei-Cherylene Tan Sui Ling bt Emily Oh Tien Yie-Yeoh Wei Jiun 8-0; Chow Yi Xuan-Sabrina Gee Zhen Hzui 8-5; Final: Loo Shi Pei-Cherylene Tan Sui Ling bt Chow Yi Xuan-Sabrina Gee Zhen Hzui 6-1, 6-3.

Under-18 singles s-finals: Michelle Khoo Li Sha bt Samantha Lee Czen Shing 6-0, 6-0; Zian Kim Khoo Xin Ying bt Nawaal Iffat Imam 6-1, 6-1; Final: Michelle Khoo Li Sha bt Zian Kim Khoo Xin Ying 6-0, 6-0.

Iqbal trains with Setipu for CEO tennis event

THOUGH the CEO & Celebrity Charity Tennis is only a charity event, Tuahku Sdn Bhd CEO Muhd Iqbal Sulaiman is taking the challenge seriously.
After recording a top-10 finish in the 2010 edition, Iqbal is determined to make a lasting impression on Dec 9.
He has hired former Indonesia international Marco Setipu as his training partner.
Setipu, 43, who played on the ATP tour in the 1990s, has been helping Iqbal polish his strokes four times a week at the Jalan Duta Stadium.
“I am very passionate about tennis. I have travelled the globe to watch grand slams and the World Tour Finals,” said Iqbal at Balai Berita in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
“I play tennis to destress myself after a hard day at work. I hope to do well and, hopefully, I can finish in the top-10 bracket.
“The event also gives participants the opportunity to build closer ties with their colleagues in a fun activity while contributing to a good cause.”
Iqbal, 38, started playing tennis at 12 after watching German Boris Becker and Ivan Lendl at the Wimbledon final.
The Kuala Lumpur-born was an active player as a junior but forfeited his dreams to pursue his studies.
However, Iqbal began playing tennis actively three years ago after realising that he was not getting any exercise.
Iqbal, a regular on the Malaysian Tennis Circuit, is ranked in the top-120 bracket on the national men’s singles rankings.
After first being held in 2008, the the CEO and Celebrity  Charity Tennis is making a return after a one-year lapse.
The doubles event will see a player being paired off with different partners and must complete five matches and the player with the highest points will be declared champion.
NST and eCEOs Sdn Bhd are joint organisers of the fourth edition of the event while Dunlop, Mohamed Ridza & Co, Petra Energy Berhad, Cahya Mata Sarawak Berhad, Mudajaya Group Berhad and the Lawn Tennis Association of Malaysia are the official partners. -

Sydney stint for top juniors

APTI coaches Mark Whilton (in dark blue), Sandon Stolle (in blue) and Darren Moore (in white) at the MBPJ Sports Complex in Kelana Jaya recently. Pic by Goh Thean Howe

KUALA LUMPUR: SELANGOR tennis is set to grow with the latest move to tie up with the Sydney-based Asia Pacific Tennis Institute (APTI).
The Selangor Tennis Association (STA) signed a MoU with APTI recently and the collaboration will include sending top state junior players to the Sydney Olympic Park Tennis Centre for training-cum-tournament stints.
Kuala Lumpur will also become a base for APTI for its players wanting to compete in ITF tournaments in Southeast Asia.
STA president Datuk Abdul Malik Mohd Salleh said the tie-up will help develop juniors in the state.
"With our involvement with APTI, a new dimension has come into play in our development efforts," said Abdul Malik recently.
"Our players can look forward to a better future in their pursuit of tennis excellence. I believe we have found a perfect programme to groom our top juniors."
APTI conducted a week-long coaching-cum-training clinic at the MBPJ Sports Complex in Kelana Jaya recently.
The clinic attracted more than 70 top juniors from Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Negri Sembilan and Perak along with 40 local coaches. The participants were taught the fundamentals of the game by top APTI coaches, headed by former US Open doubles champion Sandon Stolle.
"We plan to send our top juniors to Sydney for training and competitions next year. They will be exposed to the physical aspects of the game through various coordinated training programmes and also high-level competitions," said Abdul Malik.
Stolle was impressed with the quality of some of the participants during the clinic.
"The local coaches were exposed to different ways of training. A coach needs a coordinated approach to guide players in accordance to their age.
"Structured guidance is important for one to succeed. Coaches must understand the ability of players before deciding on the next course of training methods," he said.
Stolle, 42, the son of former Australian tennis champion Fred Stolle, won 22 doubles titles on the ATP Tour in his career spanning 13 years before retiring in 2003.
"Our aim is to provide the tools and environment to ensure each individual athlete has the greatest possible chance to be the best player they can be.
"Players will benefit from our professional coaching and hopefully it will help them achieve the next level of their game," said Stolle, also a former China national team tour coach.
APTI has selected former national champion Adelle Boey and Sri Aakash Reddiyar during the clinic to undergo a one-month training stint in Sydney.
STA secretary Tengku Mohamed Tengku Harun said both the players will head for Sydney next month.
"They were selected from over 70 participants by APTI. We will also send selected players to Sydney for stints next year," said Tengku Mohamed.-

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Jien back for a good cause

WORKING in Singapore will not stop Soo Kui Jien or 'Jien' from returning for the CEO & Celebrity Charity Tennis event at the National Tennis Complex on Dec 9.
 The former Disney Channel host, who competed the last two years and finished fourth in 2009 and 2010 with the help of partners like Ling Hee Kian, Datuk Anthony Bujang and Paul Poh.
 "I try to play once a week with some friends in Singapore as a preparation for the challenge", said Jien, who added that his favourite tennis player was Ivan Lendl.
"He (Lendl) was dedicated and absolutely tried his best on court."
 Jien, based in Singapore for the past seven years, is the presenter of Mio Stadium and Mediacorp Channel 5.
 The CEO and Celebrity Charity Tennis event is aimed at raising RM60,000 to help children in need of medical care.
NST and eCEOs Sdn Bhd are joint organisers of the fourth edition of the event while Dunlop and Mohamed Ridza & Co are the official partners.-

Koh heads Sabah's challenge

WATERFRONT Urban Development Sdn Bhd director and tennis enthusiast, Johnson Koh will bring some game to the CEO and Celebrity Charity Tennis on Dec 9.
 The Sabah Tennis Association president is the first participant from this state to compete in the event since its inception in 2008.
 The tournament, which is to raise funds for the New Straits Times Press (NSTP) Charity Fund to help young Malaysians with serious medical problems, will be held at National Tennis Centre in Kuala Lumpur.
 "I had heard about the event a few years back since I am in the tennis circle.
"This time I decided to join as it is a good programme to help those underprivileged, but at the same time as a keen tennis player, I would like to promote the sport," Koh said. Koh, who names Swiss tennis great and World No 2 Roger Federer and China's woman professional Li Na as his favourite players, believes he has an advantage despite it being his first time entering the tournament.
"I expect some good competition ... but ultimately I'd like to make sure we in Sabah are represented during this tournament," he added.
As for his preparation, the 59-year-old said playing tennis is already a daily routine for him.
"I don't think I need to do additional training," said Koh, who has been involved in the game for more than 40 years. The CEO and Celebrity Charity Tennis event raised RM61,160 in 2010 when it was last held.
Besides generating funds for charity, it also aims to inspire the younger generation to take up tennis by showing successful personalities like CEOs and celebrities' involvement in the game.
 To enter, each player will have to contribute a minimum of RM1,000 as participation fee while companies wanting to become corporate donors must purse RM5,000 to have their logos in the tournament's publicity material.-

Deja vu for Intan Mahani

THERE is a memorable feel to the CEO Celebrity Charity Tennis 2012 tournament as Datin Intan Mahani Abdul Halim makes a return to the event that set her on the road to her comeback two years ago.
The former national No 1, who is the first Malaysian to make an impact on the WTA tour when she made the fourth round of the Virginia Slims Open in the United States in 1990, just missing out on the quarterfinals.
 In 2010, the mother of six decided to make a return to competitive tennis following a 17-year hiatus, after she had enjoyed playing in the CEO Celebrity Charity Tennis tournament that year.
Now 41 and still able to compete with the youngsters in open tournaments, Intan Mahani picks and chooses the tournaments she enters, with the Port Dickson Open next weekend being one of those, as it is hosted in her home state.
Now residing in Penang, Intan Mahani is also determined to develop all her children into world class tennis players.
"Now, most of my time is focused on my children. My three sons are based in Thailand to train and compete, and they'll all soon be leaving for the United States to further their careers in tennis," said Intan Mahan
Though the CEO Celebrity Charity Tennis is more of a casual tournament, it did enough to whet her appetite for more of the sport the last time out.
"Since then, I've won the National Masters championship and I made the quarterfinals of the PTT Thailand Open in the doubles," said Intan Mahani, who still looks to her first coach Azam Baba for guidance.
Her visit to Balai Berita yesterday was accompanied by her second son, Muhd Shuhaib Munir, 14, who apart from sparring with his mother, will be her mixed doubles partner in the Port Dickson Open.
Muhd Shuhaib's elder brother Putra Asyraf, 19, and younger brother Mohd Adyl, 11, are also competitive juniors looking to make a breakthrough on the international stage.
"Mohd Adyl is now ranked second in the Thai junior tour. We have three coaches working with them. And now, I'm already starting to train my three- and four-year-old daughters," said Intan Mahani, who won three of the five matches she played in the 2010 CEO Celebrity Charity Tennis. By Arnaz M. Khairul

Thomas happy to do his bit for charity

TENNIS is his passion and T. Paul Thomas would love to perform well in the CEO & Celebrity Charity Tennis event but the competition will not be the crucial factor when he participates for the third time at National Tennis Centre (NTC) in Jalan Duta on Dec 9.
Thomas, the managing director of Manproserv Consulting Sdn Bhd, said this is the only tennis event that focuses solely on raising funds for charity and this was enough to lure him to compete.
He was unable to play in the inaugural event in 2008 due to commitments but competed in 2009 and 2010.
Thomas, 53, had played in the Malaysian inter-varsity tennis competition when a student with Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) and still plays in veteran events.
 "I love tennis and like to compete but the CEO & Celebrity Tennis is a rare event where charity is the theme. The funds go to a noble cause and there is no better way to do it while enjoying some fun tennis," said Thomas in a statement.
"It's the only charity tennis event in the country and you don't often get the opportunity to play with celebrities."
The doubles event will see a player being paired off with different partners and must complete five matches and the player with the highest points will be declared champion.
Thomas has been keeping himself fit for the event by practicing twice a week.
NST and eCEOs Sdn Bhd are joint organisers of the fourth edition of the event while Dunlop, Mohamed Ridza & Co, Petra Energy Berhad, Cahya Mata Sarawak Berhad, Mudajaya Group Berhad and the Lawn Tennis Association of Malaysia are the official partners.-

Monday, 5 November 2012

CM’s Cup ends on a bright note

WELL DONE: Liew (second right) presents the girls singles champion trophy to Barbara Stefkova while tournament director Douglas Telajan (right), tournament secretary Bernard Chin (second left) and organising committee members look on.

KUCHING: The Sarawak Lawn Tennis Association (SLTA) ended the year on a high note with the successful organising of the 20th Sarawak Chief Minister’s Cup (II) ITF Junior Tennis Championship
(Grade 3) at its centre along Jalan Crookshank here yesterday.

SLTA president Dato Patrick Liew said yesterday that there had been almost zero complaint throughout the whole championship which meant the event was very successfully organised.

“I would like to commend on the organising committee, the referee Alexis Wan, judges, linesmen and the volunteers for their dedication, commitment and hard work to ensure that the competition ran smoothly,” he said after presenting the prizes to the finalists of the boys and girls singles.

“My thanks also go to the sponsors, Sarawak government, MSNS, Sarawak Medical Department and all those who have contributed in one way or another to make the event a great success.”

On the performance of the Malaysian players, Liew said overall the Malaysians especially the elite players had shown a significant improvement by getting through the second or third rounds of the ITF Grade 3 competition.

“We hope that Malaysia’s standard can be near or at par with that of Asian countries,” he said.

This year, SLTA had organised seven international tournaments and Liew said SLTA would continue to maintain or organise more international events in time to come.

Liew added that SLTA is planning to organise three back-to-back ITF Men’s Futures US$10,000 events next year which would serve to prepare the country’s elite players for semi-professional or professional tennis.

“We are in the process of getting sponsors for the Men’s Futures,” he said.

Liew added that five international events had already been confirmed in its 2013 calendar. They are the 21st Sarawak Chief Minister’s Cup (1) ITF Junior Tennis Championship (Grade 1) in March, World Junior Team for Boys (Asia-Oceania Qualifiers) and World Junior Team for Girls (Asia-Oceania Qualifiers) in April, 9th Asian 14 and Under Series in mid-September, and 21st Sarawak Chief Minister’s Cup (II) ITF Junior Tennis Championship (Grade 3) in October.

Meanwhile, tournament third seed Callum Poland-Smith trumped sixth seed Samm Butler 6-3, 6-4 to claim the boys singles crown.

It was a tough fight for Poland-Smith as he was suffering from fatigue and heat stroke on Friday for playing on the court for more than seven hours.

“It was a very tough match with Butler who is also my training partner. We practised a lot
together and I knew his strengths and weaknesses, so I was able to beat him,” he said after the match.

It was also Poland-Smith’s first title of the year and his first visit to Kuching.

The 17-years-old hopes to come back for the 21st Sarawak Chief Minister’s Cup (1) ITF Junior Tennis Championship (Grade 1) in March next year.

Poland-Smith and Butler are trainees of the Bathteam Tennis Academy at the University of Bath in England.

They both train under coach Jim Edgar. Czech Republic’s Barbara Stefkova capped a fruitful week in Kuching where the tournament top seed also won her first title of the year after beating a tired Chang Ya-Ting of Taiwan 6-2, 6-2.

“The win was really great for me and this is my first title this year. I have played in a Grade 1 event in Japan but lost in the first round,” she said.

The 17-years-old, who hails from a small city of Olomo, has also played in Tunisia, Turkey and Norway in Grade 3 to 5 events and did not win anything there.

Asked whether her target was to win before coming here,” Stefkova replied: “Sure, I was feeling confident. I took it match by match and I felt I was playing better and better,” she added.

Being the first time here, Stefkova said she loved it in Kuching and has been to the Sarawak Cultural Village two days ago.

She will take a three-week break after this and hopes to return to Kuching next year.-

Mohamed joins the fray

LAWYER Mohamed Ridza Abdullah may be a new kind on  the block but has expressed his confidence of being the  surprise package at the CEO and Celebrity Charity Tennis,  scheduled on Dec 9, at National Tennis Centre in Kuala  Lumpur.
A former training partner of former national No 1 V.  Selvam, the 42-year-old played for Kuala Lumpur in the  Malaysian School Sports Council (MSSM) tennis competitions  in 1985 and 1986.
"I was actively involved in tennis during my schooldays at  Alam Shah Science School and started playing for my school.  In those days, students of my school make up the entire state  team,” said Mohamed at Balai Berita in Kuala Lumpur  yesterday.
“Selvam and I are from Negri Sembilan but I moved to KL  because of studies. However, we still kept in-touch and  trained together.
Expressing rave reviews on the event, Mohamed, who  plays twice a week, is determined to do well
"The event provides a good opportunity for not only charity  but also networking. As a member of the Royal Kuala Lumpur  Rotary Club, I also do a lot of charity work,” he said.
Incepted in 2008, the tournament is making its return after   a one-year lapse.
Players will play five doubles matches each with different   partners and those, who accumulate the most points will be   declared the winners.
Each player will have to contribute a minimum of RM1,000   as participation fees while companies wanting to become    corporate donors must purse RM5,000 to have its logos in the   tournament’s publicity materials.
Corporate Communication head Wan Abdillah Wan Nawi  said the tournament is expected to attract 44 players.
“ Radio personality Seelan Paul and Sarawak Lawn Tennis  Association president Datuk Patrick Liew are among the  confirmed participants,” said Wan Abdillah.
The NSTP has also had a new tie-up with eCEOs Sdn Bhd as  the joint-partner for the charity event. -

Jaiwairiah wins three titles in SUKIPT Games

University Malaysia Perlis (UNiMAP) dominated proceedings with Jawairiah Noordin winning three gold medals in the recently-concluded Malaysian Institutions of Higher Learning Games (SUKIPT) tennis competition at the Universiti Putra Malaysia sports complex.
Syed Aqil Syed Naguib and Jawairiah Noordin, as expected won the men's and women's singles events.
In mixed doubles, Syed Agil-Jawairiah drubbed UTM's Syed Azhar Syed Naguib-Sharifah Syafinaz Syed Azmir 6-2, 6-2 in the final while UiTM's Huzaifah Rahizam-Farah Hamima Karim (UiTM) bagged the bronze. Jawairiah won the women's doubles title with Nur Afifah Syakiran Hassan.
UniMap also bagged the men's doubles gold when brothers Mohd Faeez Said-Mohd Fazree Said defeated Yip Li Kuan-Kevin Loke Ke Wei from Help University 6-0, 6-2. The bronze medal match saw Hanifah Rahizam-Akmal Hakim Mohamad Salleh emerge winners over Mackendy Manggis-Lukman Hakim Abd Aziz (USM) 6-0, 6-1.

Deedat a star in the making

AHMAD Deedat Abdul Razak continued his outstanding form on the ITF Junior Circuit by reaching the doubles semi-finals of the Sarawak Chief Minister's Cup (Grade Three) in Kuching on Saturday.
Ahmad Deedat and partner Armando Soemarno of Indonesia, who received a first-round bye, negotiated past Singapore's Rohan Kamdar and Japan's Leo Julien Sebaoun 6-0, 6-4 and third seeds Aman Agarwal of India and Britain's Sam Butler 6-2, 7-5 in an earlier round.
But the sixth seeds failed to continue their promising display, losing 6-1, 6-3 to unseeded Djurabeck Karimov of Uzbekistan and Austria's Gregor Schoefberger in the semi-finals. In singles, Ahmad Deedat and compatriot Colin Won bowed out in the third round.
Ahmad Deedat, 17, has to date recorded wins in doubles at the Malacca International Championships, Widjojo Soejono MNC Cup and the Jakarta International Championships, all Group Four-level events.
Malaysia's Alyssa Boey, 16, also made an impact in Kuching by qualifying for the girls' doubles semi-finals with Taiwan's Chang Ya Ting.
The unseeded pair, however, were edged by Taiwan's eventual champions Huang En Pei-Ma Yi Chi 3-6, 6-1, 10-7. -

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Local tennis aces urged to go international

KUCHING: Local tennis players are urged to go beyond home shores and to compete internationally.
They are also encouraged to consider tennis as their fulltime career and to eventually become professionals where lucrative prize monies are for them to compete.
For those who excelled, millions of dollars in product endorsements and sponsorships are also being offered.
“You need to dispel the myth that Asians are handicapped in size and are incapable of winning Grand Slams. Some Asian players from China, Japan, India and other countries have already proven that they can win Grand Slam, ATP and WTA titles too,” said Assistant Sports Minister Datuk Lee Kim Shin.
Lee, also Assistant Minister of Communications, commended Sarawak Lawn Tennis Association (SLTA) committee led by their president Dato Patrick Liew for their commitment and spirit of volunteerism in organising the exciting Sarawak Chief Minister’s Cup ITF Junior Tennis Championship since 2001.
“Your success in promoting tennis in Sarawak and Malaysia have not gone unnoticed and the Sarawak government will continue to support SLTA in popularising and uplifting the standard of tennis,” said Lee during the recent welcoming dinner for the ongoing event.
He urged SLTA to bid for the hosting of semi-pro men’s competitions after having successfully organised the women’s semi-pro event here last year.
“Stay focused in your development programmes to produce more players for national competitions like Sukma and international competitions like ITF,” Lee told SLTA while expressing hope for Sarawak to produce semi-pro and even professional players in the future.
“We already have Mohd Assri Merzuki who is being prepared to become a semi-pro player and we hope to produce more such players,” he added. -

DLP back in the fray

DLP SPORTING Goods has remained as one of the most loyal supporters of the CEO and Celebrity Charity Tennis and will become the event's official supplier of Dunlop tennis balls at the National Tennis Complex in Jalan Duta on Dec 9.
The company's director Alan Tang said the event's noble cause and creativity have been the reasons they have been supplying Dunlop balls and T-shirts since the inception of the event in 2008.
"The CEO Celebrity Charity Tennis has a nice concept and works towards a noble cause which has attracted us since the beginning," said Tang.
 "It is one of the rare tennis events that brings together CEOs, celebrities and ambassadors and we hope the event will achieve its target again.
"We will be contributin balls and T-shirts for the players, officials and ball boys worth RM15,0000. We will also be giving away our latest tennis racquets, the Dunlop Biomimetic, to the winner."
A total 44 players are expected to compete in the event and so far, 15 have confirmed their entries.
The CEO and Celebrity Charity Tennis event raised RM61,160 in 2010, and the NSTP charity fund is looking forward to a similar target to continue offering help to children with medical conditions.
Each player will have to contribute a minimum RM1,000 as participation fee while companies wanting to become corporate donors must purse RM5,000 to place their logos in the tournament's publicity material.
The competition has a unique format whereby players will get different partners for the five matches where they will play only one set.
 If a pair manage a 6-0 whitewash, both players will be awarded six points and the player with the highest number of points will be declared the winner.
Consultant cardiologist Datuk Dr Devan Pillay won the event in 2010. The event was not held last year.
The NSTP has also had a new tie-up with eCEOs Sdn Bhd as the joint-partner for the event.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Celebrity event is here to stay

THE CEO and Celebrity Charity Tennis event will continue to sparkle for years to come.

The tournament was assured of a bright future after the LTA of Malaysia (LTAM), which has been supporting the CEO and Celebrity Charity Tennis since 2008, pledged its continued support.

The national association will be the official venue provider and also offer technical expertise to make the event a success again on Dec 9.

The tournament will be held at the National Tennis Centre (NTC) in Jalan Duta, the home of LTAM, which will also provide umpires, linesmen and ball boys for the tournament.

The annual event, aimed at raising money for the NSTP Charity Fund, was inaugurated in 2008 and is making a return after a one-year lapse.

LTAM secretary Ibrahim Abu Bakar said the event will not only bring CEOs and celebrities together but also inspire the younger generation to take up the sport.

"We have been supporting the CEO and Celebrity Charity Tennis from the beginning and it is also nice for the event to make a comeback," said Ibrahim.

"The involvement of the CEOs should also attract children to take up the sport seriously. Not only can they grow up to become good tennis players but also emulate the CEOs by becoming equally successful in the business world.

"We will be providing 11 courts for the event as there will be 44 players competing in the doubles and if there are more, we can use the adjacent NSC courts.

"We also hope that a good turnout will achieve the target of raising money for the NSTP charity fund."

The CEO and Celebrity Charity Tennis event raised RM61,160 in 2010, and NSTP Corporate Communication head Wan Abdillah Wan Nawi expects a similar amount or better to be collected this time.

Each player will have to contribute a minimum of RM1,000 as participation fee while companies wanting to become corporate donors must purse RM5,000 to have their logos in the tournament's publicity material.

The players will play five doubles matches each with different partners. Those who get the most points will be declared winners.

The NSTP has also had a new tie-up with eCEOs Sdn Bhd as the joint-partner for the charity event. -

SLTA support promotion of wheelchair tennis

KUCHING: The Sarawak Lawn Tennis Association (SLTA) will render its full support to promote wheelchair tennis in the state.

SLTA president Dato Patrick Liew said yesterday that the association is very willing to assist the physically handicapped people (orang kurang upaya – OKU) to learn and play tennis.

“When Wheelchair Tennis Malaysia brought up this idea about seven or eight years ago to extend wheelchair tennis to Sarawak, SLTA was not ready to accept the idea as it was lacking facilities to accommodate the OKU.

Now that our facilities have improved over the years, we are now ready to extend a helping hand to develop wheelchair tennis here and we shall be working very closely with WTM and the Youth and Sports Department, Sarawak towards this aim,” said Liew after presenting the prizes to the winners of the inaugural Wheelchair Tennis Clinic and Competition at SLTA tennis centre.

He said SLTA would be making a few improvisations such as building ramps to make its tennis facilities more user-friendly to wheelchair tennis players.

“We can also provide the storage facility for their equipment and wheelchairs,” he added.

Liew hoped that wheelchair tennis can become a big thing in Sarawak with the support from the Youth and Sports Department, Sarawak in terms of financial support and expertise.

The department’s acting director Razali Mohamad hoped that more such clinic cum competition can be organised to increase the awareness of the OKU and the community on wheelchair tennis.

“We are also hoping that through this kind of programme that we can produce players who can represent the state at national competitions and even play for the country at international competitions,” he said.

He extended his gratitude to WTM for bringing in instructors and coaches to conduct the clinic cum competition for 14 participants in the two-day programme that ended yesterday.

“I can see from this competition there are one or two potential players who can be groomed to play in national meets and we are selecting four to five players for training,” added Razali.

He said the department will be contributing four wheelchairs for the purpose while WTM has sponsored four racquets and a bucket of soft balls and SLTA, the facilities for training.

Meanwhile, WTM assistant secretary Mohamad Roslan Jajuli said he was happy with the response to the programme and the enthusiasm of the participants.

“It is very fortunate that we have a solid organisation like SLTA to help us promote wheelchair tennis here,” he said.

He also proposed that SLTA accept OKU as its members so that they can enjoy the excellent tennis facilities at the tennis centre.

“I shall be submitting a report to our president Dato Zainal Mohd Ali and maybe we can plan to include Sarawak as a venue for one of the circuits of the Malaysian Open next year,” he said.

Roslan also thanked SLTA, the Youth and Sports Department, Sarawak, volunteers and all those who had in one way or another contributed to the success of the programme.

In the clinic cum competition, Roslan Sebli emerged the champion while Diau Tinggom finished second, Duin Kuini and Jap Sun Hung third and fourth respectively.

Other players Kian Tungku, Yusuf Dewa, Seman Sain, Jimmy Siang, Junaidi Fuzan, Elizabeth Alynis Sumor, Peter Wong, Ani Nios and Hasan Sup all received consolation prizes and a certificate of participation.

The prizes were in the form of hampers.-

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

CEO & Celebrity Tennis is back

THE big names from the corporate world as well as  celebrities will sweat it out for a good cause at the CEO and  Celebrity Charity Tennis, scheduled on Dec 9, at the National  Tennis Centre in Kuala Lumpur.
The New Straits Times Press (NSTP) announced yesterday  a new tie-up with eCEOs Sdn Bhd as joint partners of the 44- player competition.
The tournament is aimed to raise money for the NSTP
Charity Fund.
Incepted in 2008, the tournament is making its return after  a one-year lapse.
Players will play five doubles matches each with different  partners and those, who accumulate the most points will be  declared the winners.
Each player will have to contribute a minimum of RM1,000  as participation fees while companies wanting to become   corporate donors must purse RM5,000 to have its logos in the  tournament’s publicity materials.
eCEOs chief executive officer Jailani Mustafa said his  company is honoured to be joint partners of the charity  tournament.
“It is part of our corporate social responsibility programme  to support charity events,” said Jailani at Balai Berita  yesterday.
Jailani, 45, did not fair well in the 2009 and 2010 editions  but hopes for a stronger performance this time.
“It wasn’t easy then as most players were very good and  competitive,” said Jailani, who started playing tennis at 12.
New Straits Times managing editor Datuk Nuraini Samad  and Corporate Communication head Wan Abdillah Wan Nawi  were present at the event.
Wan Abdillah said well-known celebrities including actors  and singers will be invited to compete for honours.
“We had celebrities before who upset the form book.  Football pundit and former international Abbas Saad (picture) was  among those who did well previously.
“We will make an announcement once entries are con firmed,” said Wan Abdillah.

PLTP tuan rumah Tenis Junior Dunia ITF

PERSATUAN Lawn Tenis Perak (PLTP) sekali lagi diberi penghormatan menjadi tuan rumah Kejohanan Tenis Junior Dunia ITF Gred 4 berlangsung di Kompleks Tenis Majlis Bandaraya Ipoh (MBI) pada 20 hingga 27 Oktober ini.
Setiausaha PLTP, Lee Kam Boon berkata lebih 120 pemain mendaftar untuk menyertai kejohanan dalam usaha mengutip mata bagi memperbaiki ranking masing-masing.
Kam Boon berkata peserta dari Jepun, Australia, Thailand, Indonesia, India, Hong Kong, Rusia, China, Singapura, Taiwan serta tuan rumah, Malaysia menyertai kejohanan yang mempertandingkan acara perseorangan dan beregu lelaki dan perempuan itu.
Katanya, pemain utama remaja negara, Ahmad Deedat Abdul Razak mengetuai cabaran 13 pemain negara dalam acara perseorangan.
Berdasarkan kedudukan semasa, Deedat yang menduduki ranking 607 adalah pilihan keeempat kejohanan di belakang Sahil Deshmukh dari India, Nuradim Ramdani (Indonesia) dan Gregor Schoefberger (Austria).
Menurut Kam Boo lagi, 48 pemain menyertai acara perseorangan lelaki manakala 32 perseorangan perempuan. sementara beregu lelaki 24 dan perempuan 16.-

Tennis development in Sarawak impressive

THE RIGHT WAY: Lawn Tennis Association of Malaysia (LTAM) development officer Taisto Sikkonen (left) in action while he conducts the LTAM Tennis 10s programme recently

KUCHING: The Lawn Tennis Association of Malaysia (LTAM) Tennis 10s programme which was held at the Sarawak Lawn Tennis Association (SLTA) grounds was concluded successfully recently.
The programme, which was adopted from the International Tennis Federation (ITF)’s “Play and Stay” programme, was conducted by LTAM development officer Taisto Sikkonen. It was to basically introduce tennis to young kids and let them have a choice of taking up what sports they want.

“I am very impressed with the development of tennis here in Sarawak. I am also glad to have a passionate and enthusiastic group of people attending this programme today,” he said.

For the record, it will be mandatory for tennis competitions and players aged 10-and-Under to be played with slower red, orange and green balls on the appropriate sized courts, while the traditional yellow ball will no longer be permitted for 10-and-under competition.

“This will be the ticket to strengthening and developing SLTA’s already strong junior development programme. In this format, tennis is at its easiest to learn, its inexpensive, can be played on a wide variety of surfaces so we can target an even greater number of kids and get them into the sport as fast as possible.

“We will continue to promote tennis in Sarawak, especially among the younger generation. For our junior development, we are targeting the schools here as part of our programme,” informed SLTA president Dato Patrick Liew.

Liew continued that he was impressed with the participants especially the trainees from the Samarahan Teachers Training College as they have shown great enthusiasm. They have also requested to become volunteers to help SLTA in any of their future competition and events.

“We welcome their participation in helping us out. They have also been briefed on the career prospects not only in playing tennis, but umpiring in tennis as well,” he added.

With the aim to bring more youngsters into the sport, the programme can help them experience relative success rather quickly and make the game as interesting and attractive as possible to them at a young age. Starter players play the game outright from their first lesson.

Renowned players like Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Justine Henin, as well as tennis equipment manufacturers have shown support for the campaign. It is supported by the top ITF nations too. -

PTBS to promote tennis aggresively

KUCHING: The Sarawak Bumiputera Tennis Association (PTBS) have announced that they will be promoting tennis aggressively to the Bumiputera community after the success of Sarawak-born national players Mohd Assri Merzuki and Muhammad Aiman Hamdan.

The association is planning to organise more tournaments to unearth new talents and is set to launch their website this Oct 21 to further boost tennis development in the state.

“PTBS have so far produced a number of renowned players including Mohd Assri Merzuki. After seeing the success of Mohd Assri, we were motivated to organise more tournaments and create a website to promote our association and development of tennis in the state. We want to promote tennis more among the Bumiputera community,” informed PTBS official Ismail Abdullah.

Current Kuching age-group champion Muhammad Aiman Hamdan is also one of the products of PTBS youth development programme.

He participated against a few of the world’s best U-14 players at the ITF Asian U-14 tournament which was held here recently.

“He is one the best young players in the state and we are glad that he has decided to compete in the tournament. Apart from Mohd Assri Merzuki who is one of the country’s finest, Muhammad Aiman is also a product of our youth programme,” said Ismail.

After the recent success of the Inter-community Tennis Tournament last month, PTBS will be organising a two-day tennis tournament from Oct 20 to 21.

“The tournament will be called the ‘YB Datuk Fadillah Yusof Cup’ and is dedicated to the current Petra Jaya Member of Parliament.

“The tournament features some of the state’s finest Bumiputera tennis players. This includes Muhammad Aiman. It is open to all those who are of Sarawak Bumiputera community background,” informed Ismail.

The tournament, which will be held at the PTBS grounds/headquarters at Petra Jaya, is divided into two categories – the U-18 and above 18-years-old categories. It will be contested in a team event format.

In another development, Ismail added that the association is in the process to get more female Bumiputera players to participate in their competitions.

“We do realise there is a lack of participation from female Bumiputeras in tennis. Therefore, we are committed to unearth more female tennis players and we hope to do so in this tournament.

“All female players will be playing in the mixed-doubles in their respective age categories in the tournament,” he said.

Apart from the tournament itself, PTBS will hold a dinner cum prize-giving ceremony on the evening of the last day of the tournament (Oct 21).

“It will be called ‘Malam Mesra Bersama Warga PTBS’. Some of the association’s prominent members including Datuk Effendi Tahir and other community leaders are expected to attend the ceremony.

“The ceremony will also see the launch of the new PTBS website. PTBS would like to thank all of the sponsors of the event especially DiGi Telecommunications,” added Ismail.-

Saturday, 6 October 2012

20th ITF Junior tennis c’ship (Grade 3) from Oct 30 to Nov 4

KUCHING: Four Sarawakians are among the 15 local juniors competing in the 20th Sarawak Chief Minister’s Cup (II) ITF junior tennis championship (Grade 3) to be held at Sarawak Lawn Tennis Association (SLTA) tennis centre from Oct 30 to Nov 4.

Aslina Chua is the only Malaysian playing in the main draw of the girls’ singles while Choo Lyn Yuen, Low Zhe Han and Chang Tun Sien are playing in the qualifier that starts on Oct 29.

Choo will also be joined by compatriots Ti Jia Wei, Nurin Nabilah Roslan and Alyssa Boey in the qualifier.

Looking to qualify for the boys’ singles main draw are Tan Zu Zinyang and Benjamin Lim on the alternates list are Low Kar Win and Joshua Jordan.

The two Malaysians in the boys’ main draw are Ahmed Deedat Abdul Razak (ITF No. 609) and Colin Wong Wei Ming (ITF No. 642).

Turkey’s Cem Ilkel is the top ranked player at number 94 while his counterpart Ipek Soylu is the highest ranked girl at number 69.

“Although this is only a Grade 3 competition, it is very competitive judging from the rankings of the players, with the cut off for the boys main draw at ITF No. 642 and girls main draw at ITF No. 661,” the organising committee chairman, Dato Patrick Liew said in a press conference yesterday.

Liew who is also SLTA president, said this is the second leg of the Chief Minister’s Cup ITF Junior Tennis Championship as the first leg, a Grade 1 event, was held in March this year.

“As in the past, the championship has again attracted very good response, with 93 boys and 68 girls from 29 countries have confirmed taking part,” he said on the exciting event which has made Sarawak well known globally as a preferred destination for international junior tennis events.

He is expecting some withdrawals as players might not come for the qualifying matches as they are too lowly ranked or do not have any rankings at all.

“In this aspect, we will be using the wildcards where we as the organiser can allocate at least three to Malaysians,” said Liew.

He said apart from organising international events, SLTA is also organising local competitions such as the Sarawak Closed and Inter-Division, Kuching Age Group to unearth more young talents to groom them for future championships.

“We are also encouraging our affiliates to organise more local tournaments to give our players more opportunity to compete,” he added.

He said by getting Malaysians to play in the international competitions organised by SLTA, they would get more exposure and ready to play at a higher level of tennis.-

Tennis championship a boost to tourism industry, says Dawos

KUCHING: Sports bodies in Sarawak have been urged to emulate Sarawak Lawn Tennis Association (SLTA) by organising international sporting events to boost sports tourism industry in the state.

Speaking to The Borneo Post, federal Deputy Minister of Tourism Datuk Dr James Dawos Mamit said that he had come to his understanding that SLTA since last year had organised seven international tennis championships which had attracted competitors from 35 countries.

“So you could figure out how much revenue these international events had generated for the state’s tourism industry. The incomes are from participants’ entrance fees, hotel-stay, and souvenirs and so on,” he added.

Dawos suggested that sports association could start to tap the potential and benefits of small scale sport events as tourist attraction in Sarawak and also said that sports’ tourists could be categorised into active sport tourist and passive sport tourists.

Quoting researcher’s findings Dawos revealed that the results indicated that tourists who visited the state are those motivated to seek active sport-oriented vacations and on the other hand, passive sport tourists are motivated by social factors and the need to escape from over stimulating situations.

“The fact that sport events in Malaysia attract tourists is well established and prominent examples include the Formula One Grand Prix, Commonwealth Games, South East Asian Games, and Thomas Cup Badminton Finals.

Sports event generates diverse and heterogeneous flows of travellers that may include fans, athletes, coaches, media, team personnel, parents and family members.

Despite the significance of sports event as a form of tourist attraction, it could also promote the natural and rural beauty of Sarawak to sports tourists who might be adventurers and explorers who prefer outdoor activities, or the seeker who might be attracted to the peaceful and tranquil setting,” added Dawos.

He also has the view that sports-body needs to work with local businesses, tour operators, local hotels and restaurants so that these businesses can give a percentage of sales commission from package tours directly to the sports associations who organise the tours.

“For example, if a tour operator books a hotel in the area as accommodation for a sports tour group, a 10% sales commission could be shared among the tour operator and sports-body. And while that sport events are not just for big cities and much benefit can also be realised through small amateur sporting events similar to hosting a mega sporting event. More importantly, the small scale sports events are also an effective means of securing economic benefits in a rural community that might have limited attractiveness otherwise ,” suggested Dawos -

Lucky day for duo

FOR two young tennis players, Imran Daniel Abdul Hazli and Nurin Nabilah Roslan, the chance to take part in the recent ATP Malaysian Open coaching clinic was too good an opportunity to pass up.
Seven-year-old Imran and 14-year-old Nurin were among 16 junior players handpicked by the Lawn Tennis Association of Malaysia (LTAM) to join the clinic, which was conducted by Dutchman Igor Sijsling and Brazilian Marcelo Melo.
Daniel, ranked third in the national boys' Under-10 rankings, said: "This is the first time I've taken part in such a clinic and I can't believe how tall these players are!
"I learned quite a bit and I hope one day to become a professional player just like Sijsling and Melo'
Daniel is the son of former national player, Abdul Hazli Zainuddin, who was once ranked second behind V. Selvam.
Nurin, meanwhile, said the experience was truly life changing.
"The clinic was a real eye-opener for me. The players told us so much in that one hour," she gushed.
"I tried my best to learn as much as possible and I will certainly become a better player after this."
The coaching clinic was conducted at the tournament practice courts at Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
Also present at the clinic was LTAM secretary Ibrahim Abu Bakar.
Sijsling was impressed with some of the participants.
"Even though it was a short clinic, I saw some glimpses of potential from a few of the players.
It was nice to do something like this as we get to see the future of tennis," he said.
Sijsling, the World No 87, who won three Challengers this season, reached the quarter-finals in the Malaysian Open, before bowing out to top seed David Ferrer of Spain.
Melo said he enjoys conducting coaching clinic.
 "It feels good to mingle with kids and see what they can do here. A few had some nice touches and maybe one day one of them may even go on to become a big star," said Melo, who plays doubles.-

Monaco's next aim is breaking into top five

ARGENTINE Juan Monaco wants to take his game to a higher level and move closer to the top five by the end of the 2013 season.
     He also aims to break the domination of the "Big Four" -- Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray -- who have been winning all the Grand Slams for the past few years.
     Monaco returned to the top-10 officially yesterday after clinching the Malaysian Open title on Sunday and is only the fourth player on the ATP World Tour to win four titles this season.
     "I'd like to be closer to the top five. I also want to be a consistent top 10 player," said Monaco on Sunday.
     "If I continue to work hard with my team on being a more complete player then it will be achievable.
     "I won my first title on hard court here and this is a huge progress. I will continue to make an impact as long as I stay injury-free."
     Monaco, who had outlasted Japan's Kei Nishikori in a tight semi-final on Saturday, took a see-sawing match 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 for his fourth title of the year, after Vina del Mar, Houston and Hamburg.
     The 28-year-old's dream, however, is to break the dominance of the top four ranked players.
     "It is all down to hard work and talent. I need to improve in all aspects of my game and also be more aggressive in order to break them.
     "Being aggressive is important as I need to be in control of each game (not depend on others to make mistakes)," he said.
     Monaco is close to earning a spot in the World Tour Finals in London but must first do well in Tokyo and then Beijing.
     Only the top eight players will qualify for the annual tournament.
     The Malaysian Open also turned out to be a memorable affair for several upcoming players.
     Canada's Vasek Pospisil made the most of the opportunity in the main draw by reaching his first ever tour quarter-finals before bowing out to Monaco.
     On the local front, Si Yew Ming created history by becoming the first local to win a match in the tournament.
     Yew Ming defeated national junior Colin Wong in the first round of qualifiers but lost tamely his next match to India's Sanam Singh.
     Florida-based Assri Merzuki was the most impressive among the local juniors.
     The 18-year-old won a set before losing to an experienced opponent in the singles qualifiers and then played in the doubles main draw with Syed Agil Syed Naguib. -

Monday, 1 October 2012

A first for Monaco in KL

 SECOND seed Juan Monaco recorded his first win on hardcourt at the ATP Malaysian Open for his seventh career title after battling past Frenchman Julien Benneteau 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 in an epic men's singles final at Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.

The World No 11, however, had to produce his best tennis to subdue an inspired Benneteau, the World No 34, who despite carrying a forearm injury, was determined to become the first 30-over player to capture his maiden tour title since Aussie Wayne Arthurs, who at 33, won in Scottsdale in 2005.

Argentine Monaco, who spent three weeks as a 10th ranked in July, will return to the top-10 when the official rankings are released today.

The 28-year-old, who also won titles in Vina del Mar, Houstan and Hamburg this season, now has a fighting chance of qualifying for his first World Tour Finals in London in November. Only the top eight ranked players will advance to the annual competition.

"I am very happy with the win and how I played throughout the week. Benneteau is a fighter and I always had to be at the top of my game as if I hadn't, I would have lost to him today (yesterday)," said Monaco yesterday.

"This is my first hardcourt win and for that I will always remember Malaysia. I had a great time here, it's a great tournament and I would also like to thank the fans for their support. I will return next year," said Monaco.

"The win here will definitely inspire me to try harder in forthcoming tournaments in Tokyo and Shanghai. I rather focus on my tournaments than think about London."

Benneteau, the seventh seed, called for the trainer twice during the match for his troubled right forearm and another time for a thigh problem.

"I gave my best but it was not enough. I had pain in my forearm two days ago but it was gone until today (yesterday) when I was doing my warm-ups before the final.

"I got it treated and bandaged. It was tough in the first set as the injury affected my serves. The forearm, however, was fine in the following sets as it was warm and hot after treatment."

It was a thrilling first set, which saw both players exchange breaks on four occasions before Monaco sealed the set with a decisive winner in the 12th game. The proceedings in that game lasted about 20 minutes with Monaco only clinching it on his 11th set point.

But a more relaxed Benneteau was quick to break the opening game of the second set but was immediately broken back by Monaco.

The Frenchman, however, managed to get all the crucial play in the fifth game which he held on en route to winning the set.

Monaco gained the upper hand in the third set with a break in the sixth game. He held match point on Benneteau's serve in the eighth game but couldn't convert it before making sure of victory in the next game.

Monaco added: "I saw Benneteau calling for the trainer after the first set for treatment but despite this, he became stronger and I had to play aggressive throughout the match." -

Peya-Soares on a high

                                                  Bruno Soares (left) and Alexander Peya

THIRD seeds Alexander Peya of Austria and Bruno Soares of Brazil captured their first ATP Tour men's doubles title in only their fourth tournament together at the Malaysian Open at Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
Peya-Soares, quarter-finallists at the recent US Open, dropped the first set before edging unseeded Brits Colin Fleming-Ross Hutchins 5-7, 7-5, 10-7 in the final.

Peya and Soares have had various partners in the past but they hope their new partnership will be long-term.

"We worked hard throughout the tournament and to end the week with a title in only our fourth tournament together is a great thing. It is a good start and we hope our partnership will be long-term," said Soares.

Peya-Soares made an immediate impact in their first tournament in July by reaching the final in Bastad and followed up with a last-16 appearance in Winston-Salem before reaching the quarter-finals at the US Open.

"We practised a lot in-between our matches here just to get things right. Ranking is not important at this moment... what is more important is that we are clicking better day-by-day. Let's see where this goes in the long run," said Soares.

The champions earned US$46,620 (RM142,456) for their efforts while Fleming-Hutchins received US$24,500 (RM74,864).

"We'll have two days to celebrate before we travel to Tokyo for the Japan Open. We hope to keep on doing well."

After Tokyo, the pair will play in Beijing before returning to Europe for tournaments.

Fleming-Hutchins, the World No 13 but unseeded in Kuala Lumpur, were so close to winning their fourth career title after taking the first set.

"It was a good match. We are disappointed to lose, but nonetheless, we enjoyed the experience here. We did well in the first set but a bad fifth game in the second led to our defeat," said Hutchins.

Fleming-Hutchins left for Beijing after the final and will play their opening match on Wednesday.-

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Words of wisdom from pros

SPANIARD David Ferrer may be small in stature but his renowned work-ethic and never-say-die attitude on court should be an inspiration to all.

The 30-year-old, who for the past five years has been a permanent fixture in the top 10 of the world rankings, is at a humble 1.74m -- an oddity amongst the elite of world tennis.

Ferrer, who is also a decorated Davis Cup player with three titles to his name, is currently the smallest player in a top 10 largely dominated by players breaching the 1.85m mark.

The Xabia-born Ferrer who, however, looked jaded after a gruelling season during his defeat to Frenchman Julien Benneteau yesterday, left a few words of wisdom for budding young Malaysian tennis players.

"I feel it is very important for young players to have a lot of fun and also enjoy playing the game if they are to develop," said Ferrer, who won his first career title on clay in Bucharest, Romania in 2002.

"It is, however, also very important to work hard if you want to succeed in the game.

"I work hard, but wouldn't say I am the hardest working player on tour as players like Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray also work very hard to be where they are."

Juan Monaco, who boasts six career singles titles to date and could make it seven should he emerge triumphant in today's Malaysian Open final against Benneteau, echoed Ferrer's sentiments.

"When you are a child, it is always important to be happy and make friends when you are involved in tennis," said the Argentine, who has won three titles this year.

"Even if you have the talent or qualities to turn pro, there is still a lot of hard work to be done to make it, which is why it is important to enjoy it (the sport)."

No journey far enough for hard core enthusiasts

CARRYING nothing more than a small luggage bag and a packet of 'nasi lemak', student-athletes of Universiti Malaysia Perlis (Unimap) made a 12-hour journey from Arau, Perlis on Friday just to catch the semi-finals of the ATP Malaysian Open at Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.

It was a dream come true experience for the 50-odd students and coaches, who had never watched world class tennis despite being actively involved in university-level competitions.

Unimap, an engineering-based university located just 35 kilometres from the Thai border, is an excellence centre for tennis under the Higher Education Ministry.

Head coach Amir Ahmad thanked tournament organisers IMG and the ministry for providing them with tickets.

"We chartered a bus when we were informed about it. Everyone in our tennis club was excited when I told them about the tickets," said Amir at Putra Stadium yesterday.

Amir, 30, was a former top junior who represented Perlis in the Malaysia Games and local tournaments.

Besides sponsoring tickets, IMG also treated them with mini-tennis games, like the speed-serve calculator, inside the stadium.

Unimap's No 1 ranked player Mohd Azim Zainal Abidin was excited to watch his idol, Spaniard David Ferrer in the semi-finals.

"I have a lot of stories to tell my friends in Arau. Although, I did not get to meet my idol in person, just watching him here was enough," said Mohd Azim. "

The students left for Arau immediately after the semi-finals as they could not get time-off from classes.

Benneteau-Monaco showdown

Julien Benneteau finally beat a player from the top 10 when he overcame top seed David Ferrer yesterday. Pic by Goh Thean Howe

FRENCHMAN Julien Benneteau upset top seed David Ferrer of Spain to gain his first tour win over a top-10 player this season in the semi-finals of the ATP Malaysian Open yesterday.

The seventh seed plays Argentine Juan Monaco in his seventh career final at Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil today.

Monaco bounced back from 5-3 down in the third set and even saved a match point to edge Japan's World No 17 Kei Nishikori 6-2, 2-6, 7-6 (7-4) and the World No 11, who has won three out of the four finals this season, is the favourite to nail his first title in Asia.

Benneteau has not won a singles title since turning professional in 2000, losing all six finals and his last appearance was in Sydney earlier this year.

The World No 34 overcame a jittery start in the first set before overcoming Ferrer, the World No 5, 6-4, 6-1 in 97 minutes.

Both struggled to hold serve in the opening set as they exchanged breaks on four occasions before Benneteau got the decisive break in the 10th game to hold the advantage.

Benneteau then raced to a 4-0 lead, breaking the fast-tiring Ferrer twice, in the second but had difficulty closing out the match on his serve at 5-1-up and only managed to seal a win on his seventh match point.

"I told my coach (Loic Courteau) yesterday (Friday) that I haven't beaten a top-10 player this season and how this would be a nice time," said a delighted Benneteau.

"There were no easy points against Ferrer and my second serve was not good, especially in the first set. It is something that I need to fix ahead of the final."

Ferrer congratulated his opponent for his well-deserved win.

"I had chances to close the match but I did not take them. Benneteau played a good match and he deserves to be in the final," said the 30-year-old Ferrer.

Benneteau, 30, has never played Monaco on the tour but the Frenchman believes he has a solid chance of winning his first career title.

"The final could be similar to today's (yesterday) game and I will try my best to stay aggressive," Benneteau added.

Nishikori, meanwhile, had two medical time-outs for treatment on his ankle and calf before the third set but the third seed could have won it if he had kept his nerves.

Monaco had broken twice for a 5-2 lead in the first set before Nishikori called for a time-out and it appeared at first, on his return, he was still troubled by it.

In the second set, Nishikori played a variety of shots and broke his opponent twice to level proceedings.

It looked like plain sailing for the Japanese in the third as he led 4-1 and at 5-3 had a match point before Monaco rallied back to force a tie-break.

Monaco was in the lead throughout the tie-break, leading 4-2 at one stage before clinching the winning point for his first indoor final this season.

"After I had won the first set, Nishikori came back stronger and played very well. There were ups and downs for me in the third but I fought back and won the important points.

"I am very happy with the way I finished but Benneteau will be tough as he plays a good baseline game," said Monaco.

Results, S-finals

Men's singles: Juan Monaco (Arg) bt Kei Nishikori (Jpn) 6-2, 2-6, 7-6 (7-4); Julien Benneteau (Fra) bt David Ferrer (Spa) 6-4, 6-1;
Doubles: Alexander Peya (Aut)-Bruno Soares (Bra) bt Daniele Bracciali (Ita)-Marcelo Melo (Bra) 7-6 (10-8), 6-1. -