|Karim (sixth right) presenting the state flag to Sarawak team manager Stevie Din (third left) while Liew (fifth left) and SLTA committee members, coaches and players look on.|
KUCHING: Sarawak are on course to defend its title as champions in the upcoming 18th Sukma tennis competition at the Sarawak Club and the Sarawak Lawn Tennis Association (SLTA) Tennis Centre along Jalan Crookshank here from July 22-30.
State Sukma chef de mission Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, who visited the state tennis team yesterday, expressed confidence in that outcome.
“I have big confidence in tennis with Datuk Patrick Liew at the helm of SLTA. We are well prepared and some of the players had trained overseas.
“I can see that all the players are very inspired and raring to go. There are seven gold medals at stake in this Sukma XVIII and we should be able to make a good impact here,” he told reporters.
“I hope that tennis enthusiasts in Kuching will turn up in force to give support to the Sarawak team and also to enjoy watching the matches,” he added.
Karim, who is also the assistant minister for Youth and Sports, had been to Miri and Sibu in the past two days to visit athletes and coaches. He has thus far visited or communicated with more than 10 sports and will be trying to visit more. He might be interested in drawing immediate attention to the plight facing state shooters highlighted by our other Sukma-related story today ‘Sarawak Sukma shooters hit by big headache’.
“I will be meeting the sports coordinators or the “sports champions” and all the assistant chef de mission tomorrow night to get the feedback on the progress of the preparations by all the sports,” he said. Earlier, Karim presented the state colours to the state tennis team as they would be unable to attend the Sarawak Sukma XVIII flag presentation at Unimas this Saturday due to a warming-up tournament at SLTA tennis centre.
Meanwhile, Liew said SLTA wants to ensure that visiting teams, officials and supporters enjoy good hospitality and leave with a good impression of Sarawak.
“As the host, we want to make sure that we will organise the competition fairly and professionally, and we want them to respect us,” he said.
Sarawak, he added, may also spring some surprises in the coming competition as the players have good draws in the fixtures.
“We shall be studying the strengths and weaknesses of our opponents from other states and for this purpose we will be getting the help of a coach from Germany to help us while our coach Deen Hesham will be able to work out certain strategies as he knows other players well,” he added.