Shaheed's hat-trick sets him up for a big year

Shaheed Alam in action during the recent Singapore National Games-Singapore Tennis Association Pesta Sukan Open Championship, where he won the men's singles, men's doubles (partnering Rohan Kandar) and mixed doubles (partnering Evelina Kontarev) titl
Shaheed Alam in action during the recent Singapore National Games-Singapore Tennis Association Pesta Sukan Open Championship, where he won the men's singles, men's doubles (partnering Rohan Kandar) and mixed doubles (partnering Evelina Kontarev) titles.PHOTO: SPORTSG/MANOJ BANAVALI

In his final year as a junior tennis player two years ago, Shaheed Alam won the men's singles and mixed doubles at the Singapore National Games (SNG), but lost the men's doubles final.

Earlier this month, backed by almost 18 months of playing at the open level, the Republic Polytechnic sports and leisure management student managed a clean sweep of all three events at the SNG 2018-Singapore Tennis Association Pesta Sukan Open Championship at the Kallang Tennis Centre.

"I think I have improved physically, mentally and technically (from two years ago)," said the 20-year-old, who became the first Singaporean to win an International Tennis Federation junior singles title in 2015 in a local event.

"I am more experienced after playing in more matches; I feel that I am playing better in the more important points of a match, where I become more conscious of my shot-making and play a bit smarter, instead of rushing to win.

"Also, playing in the recent tournament has given me confidence about the physical part of my game because it could be tiring on some days when I played from 6pm to midnight."

Shaheed, who reached a singles career high of world No. 1,743 in March, hopes he will continue improving towards next season, where he aims to represent Singapore in both the Davis Cup Asia/ Oceania Zone Group 3 and the SEA Games in the Philippines.

He was part of the team that secured the Republic's promotion from Group 4 in the men's team competition in February, and has the 2015 and 2017 SEA Games campaigns under his belt.

Shaheed said: "I am hoping to qualify for the SEA Games and win a medal too; Thailand and the Philippines are very strong and I will have to improve physically and mentally.

"It's about not giving them too much respect, staying very disciplined and determined, and not thinking that I am playing this Thai or Filipino who may be higher-ranked."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 18, 2018, with the headline 'Shaheed's hat-trick sets him up for a big year'. Print Edition | Subscribe