The junior national tennis team with coach Mohd Aiman Abdullah (R) and assistant coach Ian Chok (L) in a group photo at the National Tennis Centre yesterday. Picture: BT/Yee Chun Leong
BY YEE CHUN LEONG
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN - TWO sets of brothers and a duo of cousins highlight the country’s charge at this weekend’s STLA-Greensports Invitational Juniors Tennis Championships 2016 in Kuching.
National juniors Zen and Ben Sii, Timothy and Wesley Lim and cousins Harry and Henry Kwang will see action at the Sarawak Tennis Lawn Association (STLA) Tennis Centre. Moeki Monica Okochi of Japan, who trains with the national junior tennis team, will also feature in the April 15-17 competition.
Zen will compete in the Under-16 category, Wesley in the Under-12 category while the rest are in the Under-14 category.
The last outing for the junior team was the ITF (International Tennis Federation) World Junior Tennis Competition in Sri Lanka in March, where the trio of Ben, Harry and Kieran Lai flew the flag for the sultanate and finished at the bottom of the 12-country competition.
Their coach Mohd Aiman Abdullah said that his charges are prepared for the outing to Kuching.
“This is the first time for me bringing such a big group out for a competition,” he said yesterday.
“Some of the players are there for exposure as it will be their first outing while others have set their own targets.
“For guys such Zen, Timothy and Ben… Getting out of the first round is a realistic target as they have ITF Junior experience.
“They are the up and coming players. Hopefully we will see results.
“We have been preparing continuously after Sri Lanka. I’ve put most of the focus on their physical conditioning and we also have to be prepared to play under the sun.
“In junior tennis, they must be able to keep rallies going by just putting the ball in play and keeping away from unforced errors.
“They need to stay physically strong to keep up with the game plan,” continued the 23-year-old when met at the National Tennis Centre of the Hassanal Bolkiah National Sports Complex in Berakas.
Unlike the ITF World Junior Tennis Competition, which was contested in a round robin format, the tournament in Kuching will be played in a knock-out format.
Each player will get to play a minimum of two matches (one singles and one doubles) and Aiman is hoping that the players will be able to fully utilise their time there.
“There won’t be as many matches to play compared to Sri Lanka, but it is still a good chance to gain exposure,” said Aiman.
“We will take the opportunity to train at the venue in the afternoon after we arrive (today).
“We will also look at getting friendly matches as there are a lot more sparring options available.
“I heard that the last event had 80 players, and more are expected this year with players coming from Miri, KK (Kota Kinabalu) and Kuching,” concluded Aiman.
The coach went on to thank the players’ parents and the Brunei Darussalam Tennis Association (BDTA) for their support as well as Aewon for sponsoring the team apparel.