Wednesday, January 26

Kuching a desired destination among ITF officials

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KUCHING: Kuching is one of the desired destinations for ITF tennis officials when it comes to officiating in ITF sanctioned tournaments.

This is because of the great hospitality that the organiser Sarawak Lawn Tennis Association (SLTA) provides to the officials and players during the competition.

“Everyone in the ITF officiating community knows that officiating in Kuching “is easy” and enjoyable where the officials and players are well taken care of,” said ITF referee Hany El Khafiet.

Hany, who had officiated in the ITF Asia-Oceania pre-qualifying events for the World Junior Team Championship, the Junior Davis Cup and Junior Fed Cup here last year, said he was pleased to return to Kuching again.

“The infrastructure here is amazing. You have a good number of courts for the competition and the changing rooms/toilets are of world class. The SLTA centre has a cafeteria to provide good food to the participants and officials,” he said.

Hany, who is from Syria, said he is also impressed by the organisational capability of SLTA which is ably led by Dato Patrick Liew.

“The SLTA officials and other volunteers in this tournament are very helpful in running the competition and except for the rain, everything is fine and the tournament smoothly run,” he added.

Given the chance, he would love to come back to officiate in future ITF events.

Hany is quite impressed with some of the players in the Junior Fed Cup Final Qualifying who are until 16 years old and under but have high rankings like world Under 18 No. 20 and No. 22.

“I have seen many good matches especially the final of the Junior Davis Cup Final Qualifying last week and this week I saw one Chinese Taipei player Cho I Hsuan who is only 14 years old and she is playing very well here.”

“I do admire the young players for their stamina and ability to withstand the hot sun and the portsmanship among the players is very good,” said Hany.

He would like to see more local chair umpires in future tournaments and suggested SLTA develop more young people as officials.

“This is good for the SLTA because they are organising seven or eight tournaments on a yearly basis and they do not have to get foreign officials to help run the competitions if they have local officials,” said Hany.

For ITF representative Catherine Michie from ITF Headquarters in London who is here to evaluate the Junior Fed Cup Final Qualifying tournament, it has been quite an enjoyable experience.

“This is a very good event and the players enjoy competing here. The tournament is also well run and SLTA is well organised.”

She likes the tennis facilities which is good condition for the competition and also the hospitality provided by the organisers.

“I think Kuching is a lovely city where everybody is kind and helpful and the hospitality is great,” said Catherine.

“I understand that Dato (Patrick Liew) is gathering more funding to build more courts and upgrade the facilities here,” said Catherine who is also impressed by the dramatic transformation made by SLTA over the years.

“The players and officials like it here because you have good transportation, accommodation and food and I think SLTA can organise bigger tournaments if they fulfill some requirements,” she added.