KUALA LUMPUR: A difficult journey awaits the Malaysia tennis players in the Laos SEA Games but a podium finish is still locked in their sights.
Malaysia have never won gold in SEA Games tennis and their best result was a silver in 2001 in Kuala Lumpur. At the last Games in Korat in 2007, Malaysia won the bronze through the women’s team, who were beaten by Thailand in the semi-finals.
National player Adam Jaya said that they were bent on giving their best in the Laos Games and hopefully it will be enough to get them a medal.
“It will be difficult for us because Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines have many good players. But if the draws are favourable to us, we may get a shot at the bronze in the team event,” he said.
On a personal note, the 23-year-old Adam hopes that he will be able to get a repeat of his achievement at the 2001 Games where he bagged the men’s doubles bronze with Mohd Nazreen Fuzi.
“Preparations have been good and I have been playing good tennis lately. I took part in seven tournaments thus far and that should give me a good momentum for the Games,” said Adam, who is in the 1,418th spot on the world list.
For the doubles, Adam will partner Si Yew Ming, who has an impressive resume, having played in the ATP 250 Malaysia Open and the Davis Cup recently.
Yew Ming said that his focus would be to take a match at a time and he agreed with Adam that the tasks would be very difficult for them.
“I don’t want to think too much of our chances (for medals). There are so many good players out there and I will have to go out and play my best,” he said.
The 29-year-old Yew Ming added that he was working on fine-tuning his game under the charge of coach S. Selvarajoo and he hoped that things would work out well for him in Vientiane.
Adam and Yew Ming will be joined in the men’s team by Razlan Rawi and Ariez Elyaas Deen Heshaam. For the women’s competitions, Malaysia will be represented by Jawairiah Noordin, T. Neesha, Adelle Boey and Choo Lyn Yee.
With just weeks left before the team leave for Laos, Selvarajoo is now increasing the intensity of training to ensure that the players be at their peak fitness level for the Games.
“It is important that they are physically very fit for the competitions because tennis now is played at a much higher pace than before,” he said.
“With the help of physical trainer S. Selvamuthu from the National Sports Council (NSC), they now have their cardiovascular workouts daily.”
However, Selvarajoo will not put high hopes on the players and a modest target of a bronze medal has been set for the men’s team.“Now might not be the right time to put such high hopes on the team. But with a development programme in the pipeline, we may target for gold in four to six years from now,” he said. STAR