Giving tennis a boost

THE Penang government, through its ‘Sports for All’ initiative, intends to make tennis popular.

State Youth and Sports Committee chairman Soon Lip Chee said as tennis is now not so popular as football and badminton in Malaysia, more needed to be done to bring it up to par.

Coach K. Manimaran from ProAce Tennis Academy presenting a souvenir to Soon at the Penang Mini Tennis Carnival 2020. With them are Ong (standing back row, fourth from right), Chai (standing, right) and some of the participants.

“Tennis is less popular in Malaysia but not in the world. If we don’t take any action or initiative today to lift it, it will remain forever so in the Malaysian sports arena,” Soon said in his speech when he officiated the opening of the Penang Mini Tennis Carnival 2020 at Universiti Sains Malaysia courts.

“The ‘Sports for All’ initiative aims to promote all sports. We want to make tennis popular, and one day, a ‘hot’ sport in Penang and Malaysia.

“Tennis is the world’s second most watched sports behind football. In the West, tennis is very popular and we hope that we can produce players of high calibre to take part in the Olympic Games, Commonweath Games, SEA Games and other international championships.

“We don’t only target badminton but also tennis. We want a lot of people to be involved in sports so that they live a healthy lifestyle.”

Su giving a pep talk to his group of trainees at the Penang Mini Tennis Carnival 2020. With him is Penang schools coach Youharman.

Soon said tennis was the second sport under the ‘Sports for All’ programme to be launched this year as chess was held the previous week.

He thanked the parents and teachers for sending the children to the mini tennis carnival, saying students should not just pursue academic excellence.

Hang says the involvement of schools in promoting sports is essential as the students provide a huge base of potential athletes.

Among those present at the opening ceremony were Penang Lawn Tennis Association (PLTA) president Hang Kok Long, PLTA vice-presidents Ong Hock Keat and Shamsul Kamal, USM assistant officer Lim Chiao Mei and Penang State Sports Council representative Harry Chai.

Hang said this was the first time PLTA has worked directly together with the state government, the state Education Department and Lawn Tennis Association of Malaysia at grassroots level for the development of tennis in the state.


Two players taking part in a game using sponge tennis balls. Watching them are coaches Zulhairi and Chandra.

“We, at PLTA, would like to express our gratitude to the state government’s ‘Sports for All’ initiative which aims, among others, promoting a healthy lifestyle,” Hang said in his speech.

“The involvement of schools in promoting sports is essential as the students provide a huge base of potential athletes, who through proper and systematic training programmes can be groomed to be future champions.

“At this mini tennis carnival, I’m positive that the kids will find it interesting and easy to learn to play tennis.”

Shanmugam throwing a ball to one of the trainees during the clinic at the Penang Mini Tennis Carnival.

About 100 pupils, ranging from seven to 16 years old, attended the carnival. Some of them came from clubs such as ProAce Tennis Academy, Francis Tennis Service, Chinese Recreation Club, Bukit Mertajam Tennis Club, Penang Sports Club, Nibong Tebal Recreation Club and Uplands International School.

Two LTAM coaches S. Selvarajoo and Zulhairi Mohd Khir oversaw the carnival with the help of several volunteer coaches from Penang.

“We want to raise tennis awareness among the school children. LTAM has been conducting grassroots development programmes in all states,” said Zulhairi, who is currently the LTAM development officer.

Selvarajoo (second from left) giving instructions to the trainees at the Penang Mini Tennis Carnival 2020.

Selvarjoo, 61, has a wealth of experience. He represented Malaysia in the Davis Cup, SEA Games and Asian Cup from 1980 to 1985. He was chosen as LTAM head coach in 2009 and 2010. He is now one of the national coaches for the national back-up squad.

Among the other coaches helping out in the clinic were former state champion Francis Su, K. Manimaran, R. Shanmugam, Chandra Sagaran, Mohan Kumar and Penang schools coach Youharman Yahaya, a schoolteacher from SK Machang Bubok 2.

Story and pix by K.H. Ong