KUCHING: The 16th Sarawak Chief Minister’s Cup (II) ITF World Junior Tennis Championship (Grade 3) is getting more popular among the tennis playing countries in the world.
According to the organising chairman Patrick Liew, this popularity can be seen by the record number of countries registering for the competition to be held at Sarawak Lawn Tennis Association (SLTA) centre here from Oct 19-24.
Liew, who is SLTA president, said the organising committee has received entries from 50 countries when compared to 30 countries in last year’s event.
“However, due to draw constraints, as we have only 12 courts and the tight match schedule, we have to limit the number of players to 48 for boys and girls singles main draw and 16 teams for the boys and girls doubles,” Liew said after receiving the challenge trophy from Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud at Wisma Bapa Malaysia yesterday.
Accompanying Liew were SLTA vice president Douglas Telajan who is also the tournament’s director, secretary Bernard Chin and treasurer Kho Siak Koi.
At last check on the participants’ list, there were 81 boys and 56 girls from 34 countries participating in the tournament.
India has entered the biggest number of players at 19, followed by host Malaysia (16), Indonesia (15), Chinese Taipei (13) and Great Britain (12).
There are five new countries which have joined the championship namely Botswana, Iraq, Liechtenstein, Moldova and Turkmenistan.
“With the additional five courts that we are going to build under our master plan which are expected to be completed by 2012, we will be able to accommodate 120 players at any one time,” said Liew.
This means that Sarawak would be able to organise bigger tournaments which would generate more income from sports tourism.
“By rough estimates, we have managed to generate between RM2 million and RM3 million in spin-offs from organising the four international events annually, which are the Sarawak Chief Minister’s Cup ITF World Junior Tennis Championships in March and October, the Asian Under 14 in July and the US$10,000 ITF Women’s Circuit in October,” Liew added.
He said this year SLTA also successfully organised the qualifiers for the Junior Davis Cup and Junior Fed Cup.
“With the upgraded facilities, we are looking at organising eight international events every year.
“By organising these events, we are not only putting Sarawak on the world tennis map but also building our junior players into world beaters,” said Liew.
SLTA has a blueprint for the development of tennis in Sarawak and according to him, all this would have been impossible without the strong support from Taib and the state government and all those who have contributed to the successful development of tennis in Sarawak.
Tennis development in Sarawak is indeed in good hands with Liew at the helm of SLTA and supported by his dedicated committee members, as their blueprint of success has undoubtedly placed the state in the world tennis map.