Tennis: Shaheed serves notice to rivals

Singapore's Shaheed Alam hits a backhand during the South-east Asian Men's Team Invitational Tournament at the Kallang Tennis Centre yesterday.
Singapore's Shaheed Alam hits a backhand during the South-east Asian Men's Team Invitational Tournament at the Kallang Tennis Centre yesterday. PHOTO: SPORT SINGAPORE

He plays starring role at regional invitational event to raise hopes of a SEA Games medal

Singapore's hopes of gaining Davis Cup promotion and winning a SEA Games medal received a boost, as its tennis players clinched two medals at the South-east Asian Men's Team Invitational Tournament that ended yesterday.

Shaheed Alam walked away with the singles gold after defeating Indonesia's Arief Rahman 6-4, 6-4 at the Kallang Tennis Centre.

In the round-robin team competition, Singapore clinched the bronze medal after beating Cambodia 3-0 yesterday. Shaheed defeated Long Samneang 6-1, 6-2 while Joshua Liu also won his singles tie, beating Our Sarith 6-1, 6-3. Roy Hobbs and Steve Ng emerged triumphant in their doubles match against Bun Kenny and Phalkun Mam, winning 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.

The friendly tournament, which was co-organised by Singapore Tennis Association (STA) and Sport Singapore, featured 16 athletes from four countries, including Malaysia and Indonesia.

It served as a preparatory meet for the Republic's Davis Cup campaign next month, when they are bidding for promotion to Group 3, as well as the Aug 19-31 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur.

Shaheed believes that the tournament allowed him to gauge his standard against his rivals from the region. "We played particularly well because we wanted to show the Singapore National Olympic Council that we are capable of getting a medal at the upcoming SEA Games," he explained.

The 18-year-old became the first Singaporean male player to win an ITF junior singles title in October 2015.

However, he has never progressed beyond the qualifying rounds of Futures tournaments since he started playing on the ITF professional circuit last year.

STA deputy general manager Wilson Tay said it would be unwise to have high expectations after a friendly.

But he believes they can build on their performances.

"This is probably the most well-prepared team we have for the Davis Cup," he said.

Correction note: In our earlier story, we had said the friendly tournament was co-organised by Singapore Tennis Association (STA) and Singapore Sports Institute (SSI). It should be Sport Singapore, and not SSI. We are sorry for the error.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 11, 2017, with the headline 'Shaheed serves notice to rivals'. Print Edition | Subscribe