Assri wins first ITF junior title for M’sia
by Ting Tieng Hee firstname.lastname@example.org. Posted on March 12, 2012, Monday
KUCHING: Mohd Assri Merzuki yesterday created history by becoming the first Sarawakian and Malaysian to win an ITF junior boys singles title at the 45th Brunei ITF Junior Circuit Group 4 in Bandar Seri Begawan.
The tournament third seed capped a fine week of tennis in Brunei by beating sixth seed Wong Chun-Hun of Hong Kong 6-0, 2-6, 6-2 in the fi nal played at National Tennis Centre, Hassanal Bolkiah Stadium in Jalan Berakas and also finishing runners-up in the boys doubles.
It was also sweet revenge for the 17-year-old boy from Kampung Samariang Baru who lost 6-3, 5-7 and 6-7(3) to Wong in the semi-final of the 5th Melaka ITF International Tennis Championship in Ayer Keroh last week.
This was also a marked improvement for Assri as he finished the runner -up i n last year’s Brunei ITF Junior Circuit.
Assri opened his campaign with a 6-2, 6-2 win over seventh seed Allan Robert A of the Australia in the first round and defeated Park Seong Gyun of South Korea 6-3, 6-1 in the second round.
He continued his good run in the tournament by beating Yusuke Takahashi of Japan 3-6, 7-7, 6-2 in the third round.
Assri then went on to beat fifth seed Liang Wen-Chun of Taiwan 6- 3, 6-4 to advance to the semi-finals where he disposed of Jao Chi-Shan 6-2, 6-3.
In the boys doubles, Assri teamed up with Carter Lin of the US to reach the final where they lost 6-7, 6-7 to the Taiwanese pair of Jao Chi-Shan and Lin Wei-De.
This is also the second time that the combined pair had reached the doubles fi nal, after entering the final in Melaka the previous week, only to lose 5-7, 4-6 to Ahmed Deedat Abdul Razak of Malaysia and Lee Duck Hee of South Korea.
Sarawak Lawn Tennis Association (SLTA) president Dato Patrick Liew regarded Assri’s win as a great achievement for Sarawak tennis.
“I am very happy for Assri and the win has shown his great desire and determination to achieve his goal in tennis,” he said, adding that the state’s investment of around RM500,000 had paid good dividends.
“He met the same opp onent t o d ay at last week ITF compet it ion i n Melaka last week and closely lost by three sets. To have won the f irst set 6 – 0 s how show great his determination t o win and fighting spirit is,” added Liew.
“He has also been working very hard to achieve what he wants in tennis.”
Liew is looking to see Assri do well in the next two tournaments which are Grade 1 events.
They are the 19th Sarawak Chie f Minister ’s Cup ( I ) ITF Junior Tenni s Championship (Grade 1) that starts tomorrow and the 23rd Mitsubishi-Lancer International Junior i n Manila, Philippines from Mar 20-25.
“The Grade 1 championship is the highest competition for junior players and also the most competitive. If Assri can win in these events, then I can call it a day,” Liew said in jest.
Meanwhile, Assri’s coach in the US tennis academy Doru Sorin Morariu was also satisfied with his charge’s achievement.
“Actually, I am expecting him to do well and we are now seeing good results and improvements in his game. He was playing the way he was supposed to play and he succeeded in beating the same opponent he met in Melaka last week,” said the Romanian coach.
Morariu, who arrived in Kuching Saturday night from the US via Kuala Lumpur, was pleased to note that Assri had implemented what he had learnt and trained in the US.
“The win is the result of hard work and determination to do well and to realise his goal of qualifying for the US Junior Open Grand Slam in August this year,” he said.
According to Morariu, Assri is capable of achieving his goal and he can also play against the top 100 ranked players in the world as well as playing in men’s futures tournaments.
He said with the win in Brunei, Assri should be ranked around 150 while his ATP doubles ranking is 826.
“Technically, Assri is now a pretty developed player and probably he needs to be mature in the head. He is now working with my wife Mihaela to improve his mental toughness and strength,” added Morariu.
He is also expecting Assri to do well in the ITF Grade 1 tournaments in Kuching and Manila.