Tuesday, January 25

Aussies show their prowess


KUCHING: Australia confirmed their status as the top team in the 17th Sarawak Chief Minister’s Cup (I) ITF World Junior Tennis Championship (Group One) when they made a clean sweep of the boys and girls singles titles last Sunday.

AUSSIE DOMINATION: Andrew Whittington (second left) and Ashleigh Barty of Australia pose with Liew (fifth right), losing finalists Jeson Patrombon, Carol Zhao and the organising committee. — Photo by Davidson Kho

On Saturday, they captured the boys doubles title through Joey Swaysland and Luke Saville and the girls doubles title through Ashleigh Barty and Abbie Meyers.

Boys singles second seed Andrew Whittington went one better when he won the boys title after labouring hard overcome his final opponent top seed Jeson Patrombon from the Philippines.

The boys singles finalist here last year won the first set 6-4 but Patrombon staged a spirited fight back in the second set to force the game into a tie-break after the score was level at 6-6.

Whittington won the tie-break 7-3 to take the second set 7-6(3) of the final that lasted an hour and 50 minutes.

“I am really happy to win the final and avenge my third round loss to Patrombon in the Australian Open Junior earlier this year,” the ITF boys ranked No. 11th Whittington said after beating his ITF No 10th ranked opponent.

According to the Australian Open Junior boys doubles finalist, the competition in Kuching this year was very tough as there were many ITF top 100 European players competing in the singles.

“Patrombon was the only Asian opponent that I have met in this competition and he played really well today,” said the 17-year-old Whittington who added that this was the final year that he would be playing in a junior tournament.

He will be going for the senior events next year and ultimately move on to the Grand Slams.

In the girls singles contest played earlier yesterday morning, Ashleigh Barty collected her second title in two days when she broke the strong resistance of Canada’s Carol Zhao in the final.

The Australian lass from Queensland won the first set 6-3 but was held 5-5 in the second set before she moved into top gear to finish off Zhao 7-5 in the match that took only 50 minutes.

“I am very happy to win my second title here this week. Zhao was a very tough opponent to beat but I played well to my game plan to win,” she said.

Meanwhile, organising chairman Dato Patrick Liew was pleased to note that the championship was successfully run by a small organising committee.

“The organising committee were very efficient and professional and we are happy that there are some young people like white badge official Razmi Rawi who helped out with the refereeing (qualifying) and umpiring matches,” he said.

Liew, who is also SLTA president, said the association would be upgrading the tennis facilities at the centre        which includes re-surfacing three more courts to make it eight courts that are resurfaced.

“This is also part of our preparation for the hosting of the Asia/Oceania Qualifying World Junior Team Championship here from May 2-15 where 16 boys teams and 16 girls teams will be participating,” he added.

Liew said International Tennis Federation will also be giving SLTA a total grant of RM136,640 to host the event.

Other international events to be organised this year are the 7th Asian U-14 Series from July 13-17, 18th Sarawak Chief Minister’s Cup (II) ITF World Junior Tennis Championship (Group 3) from Oct 18-23 and the ITF Women’s Professional Circuit US$10,000 from Oct 26-30.