Thursday, 26 January 2012

Malaysian Open next year in Langkawi

KUALA LUMPUR: The fourth edition of the Malaysian Open women's tennis tournament next year will be held in Langkawi.
Lawn Tennis Association of Malaysia (LTAM) honorary-secretary Ibrahim Abu Bakar said Langkawi was chosen because the island was a well known tourist attraction and having the tournament there would attract more tennis fans.
"It is about time for us to change the tradition of holding the tournamnet in Kuala Lumpur and Langkawi is a good alternative," he told reporters after attending a luncheon with former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who is also the patron of the tournament, here today.
This year's edition will see 32 of the world's leading players competing for the singles title and 16 teams for the doubles title in a knockout competition format which will be held from Feb 27 to March 4 at the Bukit Kiara Equestrian and Country Resort here.
Former world number one Venus Williams of the United States is among the top players to have confirmed participation this year.
Current world number nine Marion Bartoli of France and China's rising star Peng Shuai are among the others who will be in the fray. This year's edition is offering total prize money of USD220,000 (RM690,172). - Bernama

It's Official

VENUS Williams is officially returning to competition next month and the former World No 1 has declared herself fit for the BMW Malaysia Open.
The former grand slam winner will compete in her first tournament since last September’s US Open at the Dubai Duty Free Championships before making her debut in Kuala Lumpur.
The third edition of the tournament will be held at the Bukit Kiara Equestrian & Country Club on Feb 27-March 4.
The 32-year-old, whose ranking has slipped to 101 in the world, withdrew from Auckland before doing the same for the Australian Open.
Venus has not played competitively since last September and has been receiving treatment for Sjogren’s syndrome.
In a posting on her website, the United States star said that she has been making progress and plans to return to the tour next month.
“After several months of training and treatment, I am making steady progress to top competitive form.
“My diet and fitness regimen have allowed me to make great strides in terms of my health and I am very close to being ready to return to WTA competition. I have every intention to return to the circuit in February,” said Venus.
Tournament director Keld Kristensen said Venus was excited to play in Kuala Lumpur.
“Venus withdrew from Melbourne as she needed to work on her fitness. There is no change to her schedule ... she will play in the Malaysia Open”, said Kristensen at a luncheon in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
France’s World No 9 Marion Bartoli, Australia’s defending champion Jelena Dokic, China’s Peng Shuai and Japan’s Ayumi Morita are among those confirmed for this year’s edition.
Kristensen also disclosed that the Malaysia Open may move to Langkawi next year.
“It is still in the early stages as we first need to look at the proposed venue and also get WTA’s clearance before going forward,” he said.
Former Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad is the patron of the Malaysia Open.-NST

Venus' vital stopover

THE upcoming WTA Tour BMW Malaysian Open will serve as part of Venus Williams preparation in search of a fourth Olympic gold medal at next year's London Olympics.
Venus, who won the singles gold at the 2000 Sydney games and partnered sister Serena to win the doubles title at the same event as well as during the 2008 Beijing Games, said the Olympics will certainly be the highlight of 2012 for her.
"I feel good. My aim for 2012 is to get back into the top of the rankings and of course London will be the highlight for me," said the 31-year-old in a statement released by Malaysian Open organisers Carbon Worldwide.
"With the Olympic tennis tournament to be held at Wimbledon next year, the BMW Malaysian Open will be a great opportunity for me to prepare for the rest of the season."
Venus added: "Malaysia is a very important stop during my comeback schedule and will be fantastic opportunity to improve my strength. The heat and humidity will be especially challenging, but I am used to the heat and love the weather."
Currently ranked 104 in the world after a season blighted by injury and illness, the lanky American who possesses one of the most powerful ground-strokes in the women's game is always a threat on any surface and is well known for her ability to come back strongly after an injury.
The seven-time grand slam singles champion added that the good reputation the tournament has among players on the tour and a chance to play in front of her Asian fans was among the factors attracted her to compete in Kuala Lumpur.
"I have heard so much about the country and the city and on Tour and the girls have said great things about the event and the special atmosphere during the matches.
"I have a lot of fans in Asia and the region and I am excited to come over and play in front of them and hope for them to support me throughout the tournament."
Venus, who has only competed in 11 matches since reaching the semi-final of the 2010 US Open, will start her comeback in Auckland before competing in the Australian Open, both in January. - NST

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Kuching High dominate MSSM tennis meet

SMK Kuching High dominated the Malaysian Schools Sports Council (MSSM)Kuching Tennis Championship, capturing three out of eight categories competed at three venues from Jan 16-19.
Augustine Chang and Gregory Tan handed SMK Kuching High its first title when they blanked Ricco Soh-Md Shafiq of SMK St Joseph 6-0, 6-0 in the Boys Under 18 doubles final.
The semi-finalists were Steven Sugiarto-Terence Soo (SMK Lake) and Geofrey-Michael (SMK Bau).
Kenneth Tan and Low Zhe Han were up to the task to thump teammates Adrian Lim-Kenneth Kueh 6-0, 6-0 in the Boys Under 15 doubles final while the semi-finalists were Shane Perry-Sean Chin San (SMK St Joseph) and Afizal Ahmad-Mohd Zakaria (SMK Tun Abang Haji Openg).
SMK Kuching High’s third title was delivered by Goh Suan and Michelle Sim who posted two wins from two matches in the round robin league of the Girls Under 15 doubles competition.
The runners-up and semi-finalists were the combined pair of Alia Azman (SMK St Teresa) and Caitlin Lean (SMK Kuching High) and Averile-Emelia from SM Lodge.
SMK Kuching High also did well in the Boys Under 15 singles competition, with Kenneth Tan finishing second after losing 7-6, 6-7 (3-7) to the champion Alvin Teng of SMK Jalan Arang.
Tan’s teammates Low Zhe Han and Adrian Lim were the semi-finalists.
In the Girls Under 15 singles, Caitlin Lean was the runner-up after losing 3-6, 5-7 to Sekolah Swasta St Joseph’s Kirstin Leong in the final.
Her teammates Michelle Sim and Goh Suan were the semi-finalists.
Meanwhile, Augustine Chang suffered an upset defeat 4-6, 6-7 (6-8) to Ricco Soh of SMK St Joseph in the Boys Under 18 singles final.
The semi-finalists were Benjamin Bong from SMK St Joseph and Izzul Aizuddin Mohd Noor of Tunku Putra International School.
SMK Batu Lintang also walked away with one title after Choo Lyn Yuen lost little sweat in beating Low Zhe Ning of SMK Kuching High in the Girls Under 18 singles final.
Choo was leading Low 1-0 when the latter retired from the match.
Nicole Phoo of SMK St Teresa and Liz-Natasha Foo of SM Lodge were the semi-finalists.
SM Lodge took the Girls Under 18 doubles crown through Liz-Natasha and Melissa Ong who registered two wins from two matches in the round robin contest while teammates Sim Li Na-Adina Chua secured one win and one defeat to finish second. Semi-finalists were Ashley Chua-Ho Yie Xin of SMK Kuching High.
The event participated by 13 schools at Sarawak Lawn Tennis Association Complex, Maksak Club and Batu Lintang Teachers Training College was jointly organised by SMK Padungan and SMK St Thomas.
Other participating teams were Kolej Datuk Patinggi Abang Haji Abdillah and SMK Sg Maong.
SMK St Thomas senior assistant (Co-curriculum) Suratin Jumiran gave away the prizes and closed the event.
All the top four finishers in the singles age group will represent Kuching in the MSSM, Sarawak Tennis Championship to be held in Bintulu from Feb 14 to 17.-

Moving On

AUSTRALIA'S Jelena Dokic will be aiming to get her career back on track at next month's BMW Malaysia Open following an unimpressive start to the year.
World No 64 Jelena, who lost in the early rounds in Auckland, Sydney and at the ongoing Australian Open, is determined to retain her title in Kuala Lumpur.
"It's not the end of the world. At the end of the day, it's just a tennis match. You have to move on," Jelena told after her 6-3, 6-2 defeat to France's Marion Bartoli in the second round of the Australian Open.
"It's done. You look forward to tomorrow and every day you keep trying to improve something and get better. It will come."
Jelena ended her eight-year title drought by edging Czech Republic's Lucie Safaova 2-6, 7-6(11-9), 6-4 in last year's final.
The third edition of the Malaysia Open will be held at the Bukit Kiara Equestrian & Country Club on Feb 27-March 4.
Former World No 1 Venus Williams, China's Peng Shuai, Japan's Ayumi Morita, India's Sania Mirza and Serbia's Bojana Jovanovski are among those confirmed for this year's edition.
Venus' participation, however, is still in question as the 32-year-old has not played competitively since withdrawing from last September's US Open and has been receiving treatment for Sjogren's syndrome, an auto-immune disease that causes fatigue and joint soreness.
The five-time Wimbledon champion, however, said she is targeting a return to action next month.- New Straits Times

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Champ Dokic and three Asian stars to play in Malaysia Open

Defending champion Jelena Dokic of Australia and Indian sensation Sania Mirza will grace the BMW Malaysia Open tennis tournament at the Bukit Kiara Equestrian and Country Club from Feb 27-March 4.
Young Japanese star Ayumi Morita and 20-year-old Serbian ace Bojana Jovanovski have also confirmed participation.
It will be a sweet homecoming for world No. 64 Dokic as her win here last year marked her first Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) title since June 2002.
With Asia’s No. 2 Peng Shuai also confirmed, the Malaysia Open will see two other Asian stars – 26-year-old Sania and 22-year-old Ayumi – in the mix.
Sania, who withdrew at the last minute last year, is on the road to recovery after a knee injury forced her to stop playing after the US Open in August.
At the on-going Australian Open, Sania was defeated by Tsvetana Pironkova in the first round.
World No. 52 Ayumi, meanwhile, is known for her strong and consistent two-handed groundstrokes and is highly regarded as a mentally tough youngster.
The Japanese No. 1 enjoyed good outings at the last two editions here – losing to eventual winner Alisa Kleybanova in the semi-final in the inaugural Open and going down to Jarmila Groth in a thrilling quarter-final match last year.
World No. 90 Jovanovski will be returning to Kuala Lumpur for the third consecutive year, having made her WTA Tour debut at the Malaysia Open in 2010. She lost to Dokic in the quarter-finals last year.
The addition of these four players – Dokic, Sania, Ayumi and Jovanovski – will surely add more glamour to the tournament.
Former world No. 1 Venus Williams, French queen Marion Bartoli and China’s Peng Shuai had announced their participation earlier. - the Star

Monday, 9 January 2012

Sri Lanka’s tennis moving ahead, but slowly - Suresh Menon, ITF Development Officer for Asia

When Asia’s tennis is concerned, Suresh Menon is an important figure. Former Davis Cup player for Malaysia, Menon is now one of the ten (10) Development Officers (DOs) attached to the International Tennis Federation (ITF), who are there to advise and assist National Associations of respective regions with their activities, mainly development of tennis.

Menon is presently based in Seremban, Malaysia and covers the whole of Asia, except for the region of West Asia which comes under the purview of another DO (Farah Dayoub of Syria). He visited Sri Lanka last December to conduct an Olympic Solidarity Programme. The Island inquired about Menon’s role with ITF and talked about the changing face of tennis in Asia, his long-running relations with the Sri Lanka Tennis Association (SLTA) and what the future holds for Sri Lanka’s tennis.

Excerpts of the interview:

Q: What is the purpose of your visit to Colombo?

Menon: This visit is under the Olympic Solidarity Programme and I’m here as an expert to advise the SLTA on how to establish a more efficient and result-oriented National coaching structure.

Q: Can you explain more about the ITF development programmes taking place in this region?

Menon: Mainly there is the programme named ‘Tennis Pathway’ for the juniors. For that, the Junior Tennis Initiative (JTI) is there. Christopher (Bharathiraj) Pillai is Sri Lanka’s country coordinator of the JTI. Firstly, the programme named ‘Tennis 10s’ comes under the JTI. Then the kids who are over 10 undergo more intense, specialised training. There, the kids are also exposed to more intense competition. For that the ITF holds the annual Division-II 14-and-Under Championships. In 2012, this will be held in Vietnam in January. From there, players are selected to the 14-and-Under Division I Championships. In 2012, that will be held in March in the Philippines. When you take ‘Tennis 10s,’ the regional coordinators of the given country encourage large scale participation while identifying future talents. Then we will give those talented opportunity to develop their potential and move along the ‘Tennis Pathway.’

Q: What does involve your work basically with the ITF?

Menon: I’m the ITF DO for Asia. It involves comprehensive work. There are nine other DOs. I’ve been working in this capacity for 15 years, since 1996.

Q: What are your observations on Asia’s tennis?

Menon: Asian tennis is on the rise. Asia has begun to produce better quality players from more countries in the region. China in particular is doing well. It produced a Grand Slam champion as well (women’s player Li Na, the first Asian to win a Grand Slam singles title when she won the 2011 French Open). If you take international rankings, there are more Asians in both women’s and men’s rankings than any time before. There are more competitions coming up. Economically too, Asia is more powerful than it was two, three years ago. The developed countries in Europe are struggling due to the economic situation. That (the economic situation), has a direct correlation with Asia’s rise in tennis. We (ITF) feel India and China are important countries. They are huge. More competitions are being held there now. That’s why we have a DO, Doug MacCurdy, just for those two countries.

But still there is a lot more to be done. Asia’s progress in tennis is not indicative of the large population we have here. There are some developed Asian countries that are lagging behind probably because they haven’t built a good, comprehensive structure. The ITF will start what is named the Asian Development Centre in Thailand, one of our major programmes, for the players of this region to be trained in more economical and affordable manner.

Q: Each sport has its own way of progress. When you look back and see tennis in the 1970s or ’80s, what can you say about the present situation?

Menon: Tennis was very big in 1970s. During the ’80s, it was still good. But coming to the 1990s, there was a drop, a considerable drop, especially in the developed nations. A country like Germany which had a huge tennis market was not doing well. When society changes you have to adapt to those changes. The ITF understood this fact. During the 1990s, the world began to move at a greater pace and we needed to adapt to this situation. Like any other commodity, tennis too had reached its highest point and was stagnent. That’s why the ITF introduced ‘Tennis 10s’ where the kids needed to start tennis with modified equipment. That proved to be successful.

In Europe ‘Tennis 10s’ has become mandatory and kids no longer play with the usual tennis ball (they use slower coloured balls of either red, orange or green which are respectively 75%, 50% and 25% slower than the usual tennis ball). Earlier, many people began to play the game but quit before long. Now, there is a big boom.

The most recent ‘Tennis 10s’ competition in Sri Lanka attracted about 950 participants which is a great improvement. From 2012 onwards, it’s an ITF rule to conduct all 10-and-under competition with modified balls. If not, they’ll be breaking a rule!

Q: Now there is a problem with regard to Sri Lanka. The player base will drastically expand after the introduction of ‘Tennis 10s’. But the number of clubs and courts, especially in outstations, will remain the same. What’s the plan to counter this problem?

Menon: It’s a real problem. But the good thing is that the regional instructors have introduced the game to outstation schools. The plan is from schools to migrate to the clubs. But as you said, the number of clubs remains the same and the kids will again quit the game. You don’t want the ‘Pathway’ to be broken. We have to look at the economic situation of this country. Yes, there should be more courts in the outstations. It’s happening, but it’s not happening as fast as we’d like it to. A few years ago, you didn’t have a highway to the South, but there is one now. The war is no more and the govt. may come in to build more and more sports centres out of Colombo.

Q: Your observations on Sri Lanka’s tennis?

Menon: It is said that there is a drop in the standards here in Sri Lanka when compared with what it was there two, three decades ago. But still you have to understand that other nations have improved fast and not that Sri Lanka has gone down. I don’t say that the situation is ideal. There is more room for improvement. I’m here to talk about these things with the SLTA. Why good players are leaving for other countries and how are we going to maintain a good senior pool of players in here. May be the SLTA can have good local prize-money tournaments. When you know that you can make a living out of the game, you are encouraged to have a career. Here it’s not easy. In Spain, you have 52 Futures tournaments in the country. But this country is different.- By Revata S. Silva (

Yus Syazlin sasar ranking pertama Asia

WALAUPUN baru berusia 13 tahun tetapi kejayaan Yus Syazlin Nabila Yusri menghuni ranking ketiga Remaja Asia Bawah 14 Tahun Persekutuan Tenis Asia (ATF), tahun lalu membuktikan dia adalah permata berharga tenis negara.
Meminati dan menjadikan bintang tenis dunia dari Russia, Maria Sharapova sebagai idola, pelajar Tingkatan Dua Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Tunku Lailatul Shahreen Kangar, Perlis itu mensasarkan dapat memanjat ranking pertama tahun ini.
"Saya mensasar ranking pertama tahun ini, selain bercita-cita sebelum umur 16 tahun saya mampu menduduki kelompok 100 pemain terbaik Persekutuan Tenis Antarabangsa (ITF) dan satu hari nanti dapat beraksi dalam WTA.
"Namun, saya sedar ia bukan mudah, sebaliknya saya perlu bekerja keras dan memberi komitmen tinggi bermula sekarang," kata penerima Anugerah Tunas Harapan Puteri Majlis Sukan Sekolah-Sekolah Malaysia (MSSM) - Milo Peringkat Kebangsaan 2011 itu.
Namun, apa yang membimbangkan Yus Syazlin ialah mengenai dana kerana jika dia mahu mencapai cita-citanya itu dia perlu sokongan kewangan yang kukuh membolehkan beraksi dan menyertai lebih banyak kejohanan.
"Jika dikira, saya memerlukan sekurang-kurangnya RM36,400 setahun beraksi dalam 12 kejohanan ATF tahun ini. Semua kejohanan itu membolehkan pemain mengumpul mata dan dikira untuk kedudukan ranking.
"Saya berharap ada syarikat korporat sudi membantu bagi merealisasikan cita-cita saya," katanya yang akan menyertai kejohanan ATF yang pertama tahun ini di Vietnam, bermula Khamis ini.

Umur: 14
Mula Bermain: 6 tahun

Ranking Ketiga Asia Bawah 14 Tahun
Anugerah Tunas Harapan Puteri MSSM 2011
Tempat ketiga Kejohanan ATF di Myanmar
Suku Akhir ATF di Jakarta l Juara ATF Siri di Melaka
Juara ATF Siri di Pulau Pinang
Juara Kejohanan Antarabangsa Perlis