South African Ive completes a double

Monday, March 12, 2007

IT WAS a close match in the third set, but South African Grant Ive managed to pull through for a win, beating Singapore's Sylvester Wee 7-5, 2-6, 6-4 in yesterday's final of the boys' singles event at the 35th Brunei Group 4 International Tennis Federation Asia Junior Circuit Tournament.

Third seed Ive couldn't have asked for a better result in the week-long tournament, as his victory comes a day after capturing the boys' doubles title with compatriot Jason Blakey-Milner, who defeated the Thai duo of Sorapon Imprapai and Grittaboon Prahmanee 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.

Seventh seed Wee was a worthy opponent and both players seemed evenly matched in terms of technique and skills. Their rallies provided the crowd with one of the most entertaining matches of the competition.

Ive won the first set in less than convincing fashion and his lack of concentration spoiled a two-game lead in the second set. He also struggled to answer Wee's powerful serve.

The players were tied at various points in the last set first at two games a piece, then three and four.

Ive's determination, however, carried him through to his first tournament win.

"I didn't set myself any target before the competition and I didn't expect to reach the final," said the 16-year-old Ive, who has been playing tennis since he was eight.

"I lost focus in the second set, partly due to the heat, and when Wee led 5-2 I decided to concentrate on the third set because I didn't want to tire myself out trying to pull off a comeback."

Ive added that Wee the first Singaporean to reach the final of the boys' singles dropped many crucial points.

The girls' singles was won by top seed Malaysia's Jawariah Noordin, who defeated eighth seed Thailand's Natchanok Saenyaukhot 6-4, 6-4 for the title.

"There was a lot of pressure on me to reach the final because I was the top seed and I would have been embarrassed if I didn't qualify for today's (Sunday's) match," said the 17-year-old Penang native.

Her coach Nadir Ashraf said the more experienced Jawariah cleverly outsmarted her opponent to take the title.

"Jawariah also has powerful ground strokes and terrific forehand and I've always expected her to win the event," said Nadir.

Saying she had the potential to become a professional, he added that all Jawariah needed was enough encouragement and support from her family and friends.

Jawariah credited her father, Noordin Omar an ex-Penang State team footballer as the force behind her success.

The Brunei Times