KUCHING: There are no automatic berths for Sukma XV in Pahang next year and all players will have to fight for their places in the Sarawak tennis team.
Sarawak Lawn Tennis Association president Dato Patrick Liew said as it is expected that it would be tough to defend the overall champions title in Kuantan, only the best players will be chosen from a rigorous training and selection process.
He said it was SLTA’s practice to pick only the best players who can help Sarawak win in Kuantan, Pahang next year.
Liew stressed on the importance of making early preparations for the games, saying that there will be no excuses if the team is well prepared but failed to perform.
“Sarawak is still regarded by other teams in Peninsular Malaysia as the biggest threat and even Sukma XIV champions Negeri Sembilan had commented that there was no satisfaction in winning if they didn’t beat us,” he said.
“There is no bias or favouritism involved as all players will be given the chance to train and compete against each other starting August until December where they will go for a selection trial from January to May,” Liew said of the selection.
The players will play at least four to five matches against each other every month.
“We will pick the best seven from both the boys and girls groups and they will compete against each other in a round-robin format. The best five will form the Sukma squad,” said Liew.
According to him, the association has listed 10 boys and 10 girls for the training session.
The boys expected to be in the list include Mohd Assri Merzuki, Ariez Elyaas Deen Hesham (pic), Razmi Rawi, Oscar Chang, Gerald Yao, Kenneth Tan, Gregory Tan, Alvin Teng, Ricco Soh and Marcus Chua while the girls are Wena Tsan, Shirley Ling, Amelia Foo, Choo Lyn Yin and her sister Lyn Yun, Cecilia Chai, Jane Chang, Aslina Chua, Melanie Lau and Kirstin Leong.
“SLTA will ensure that they will meet the criteria which is commitment, discipline, teamwork, fitness and consistent performance during the training stint,” he added.
“We will closely monitor the progress and performance of every player who has the talent and commitment to play for the state, including those who are now training and studying overseas.”
Those now training and studying overseas are Mohd Assri and Wena Tsan in the US and Ariez in Spain.
Liew said the five boys and girls will be selected to the final squad in May and they will undergo centralised training and will play in some exposure tournaments, probably in Kalimantan, Indonesia.
At Sukma XIII in Melaka last year, Sarawak were overall champions with three golds, four silvers and three bronzes which was better when compared to three golds and five silvers won in Terengganu in 2008. - Borneo Post Online