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Assri Comes Good

by Hussin Rahman (New Sarawak Tribune)

Kuching: Assri Merzuki at last won his first ITF Junior singles title when he beat Wong Chun – Hun of Hong Kong in the boys singles final of the 45Th Brunei ITF Junior Circuit Group 4 in Banar Seri Begawan yesterday.

Assri defeated Wong 6-0, 2-6, 6-2 in the final which lasted three an a half hour to make up for the pain of losing to the same opponent in the final of the 5th Melaka ITP International Tennis Championship in Ayer Keroh last week.

Florida-based Assri, who had great chances to win the match in Mekala, was beaten 3-6, 7-5 and 7-6 (3).

But there was no such mistake when the 17-years-old Sarawakian again met Wong in the absorbing final on the centre court at the National Tennis Centre, Hassanal Bolkiah Stadium in Jalan Berakas yesterday.

Assri’s victory also made up for his disappoiment in losing 6-3, 6-2, to Kelvin Lam Siu Fai on Hong Kong in the final of the same tournament in Brunei last year.

Assri, said his coach Doru Sorin Murariu, shed tears of joy at the end of the match which fulfilled his ambition of winning an ITF Junior singles title before he graduates to the senior ranks.

Murariu, who shared the good news from Assri with Sarawak Lawn Tennis Associationa (SLTA) president Dato’ Patrick Liew while they were at the SLTA Tennis Complex at around 11.00 AM yesterday, said the player deserved to win the title in Brunei as he had come very close to beating Wong in Melaka.

“Assri’s win is a reward for his hard work, dedication and commitment to becoming a good tennis professional. He has improved a lot in the past 18 months. In fact, he can  play with the men now”,said Murariu, who runs the Tennis Players Fitness Istitute in Florida where Assri is based for tranning and competitions.

Meanwhile Liew, who is playing a big part in making Assri dedicate his life to becoming a tennis professional three years ago, said the player’s victory in Brunei proved that Sarawak has players who can go far if they work hard and are given the right support by sponsors, the State Government, the association and coaches.

The sole Wi-Fi service providerin Sarawak, Danawa Resources Sdn, had two weeks ago came in to sponsor Assri with RM10,000 worth of sports attire and equipment for the four international ITF tournaments he was due to compete in this year.

Apart from the torunaments in Melaka and Brunei, Assri, who hails from Semariang Baru here, is also competing in the Sarawak Chief Minister’s Cup World ITF Junior in Kuching starting tomorrow and the Manila ITF Junior Group 1 tournament.

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