TENNIS...ah, soon the stars of the ATP World Tour will descend on our shores yet again for the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur 2009.
Having had the privilege of interviewing Jim Courier and Michael Chang when they came for the Salem Open in 1993, it gives me great pleasure to be involved in any way in any tennis tournament.
Dealing with people who surround Roger Federer too was almost surreal. The highlight for some people, including yours truly, is of course the opportunity to snap a photo or two with these millionaires, as the media personnel did with Fed-ex, John McEnroe, Bjorn Borg and James Blake during the official dinner hosted by the then Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Tun Razak at his Jalan Duta residence ahead of the Showdown of Champions last year.
Adam Malik, V. Selvam, R. Ramachandran and Khoo Chin Bee at their peak gave us a reason to keep tabs on local tennis. The downside in the 90s was the never-ending internal problems, even though the Lawn Tennis Association of Malaysia (LTAM) were led by top guns, among them the late Tun Ghafar Baba and former Chief Secretary to the Government, Tan Sri Sallehuddin Mohamad.
Since 2005, however, LTAM, with president and corporate figure Datuk Abdul Razak Latiff at the helm, has succeeded at least in reviving interests towards the game, by sanctioning top-class events such as the Malaysia Open later this month, the Showdown 2009 and the WTA event next year.
With LTAM's policy of developing youngsters rather than sustaining the present crop of seniors, the chance of taking on the top players in practice sessions whenever there is a major event in Kuala Lumpur is a small step in the learning process.
I hope there will be a chance for our youngsters come the Malaysia Open later this month.
Tournament Director Nick Freyer who hosted a buka puasa session last night, is delighted with the way everything is falling into place, with the court installation process already underway, as the build up continues to the first of what is expected to be the biggest annual international indoor sporting event in the country.
Gathering members of the media, tournament sponsors and friends to acknowledge and sample some of the delights from four F&B Suppliers that are on board for the event, Freyer said:
“I often hear people say, in jest, that the real top sport in Malaysia is "Makan" or eating and so it is with great pleasure that I welcome top-notch and famous food and drink brands in Starbucks Coffee, Krispy Kreme, Gatorade and Eau Claire as Official Suppliers to the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur, 2009."
The Hong Kong-based Freyer, who is married to a Malaysian, said:
"Players coming to the Malaysian Open Kuala Lumpur 2009 continue to produce the goods on the ATP World Tour with Fernando Verdasco winning his first title of the year at the Pilot Pen Tennis in New Haven, Connecticut. Fernando was one of the first players we announced that was coming to KL and we are thrilled that he is doing well,” Freyer said. “Right now all attention in the tennis world is on the US Open in New York and we wish all our players the very best of luck at the year’s last Grand Slam event.”
The Malaysian Open Kuala Lumpur 2009 promises a fantastic line up of players. In addition to Verdasco there is Nikolay Davydenko, Gael Monfils, Fernando Gonzalez, Robin Soderling,
Lleyton Hewitt, David Ferrer, Richard Gasquet, Thomas Berdych and many more.
The tournament will be playing host to two from the world’s top ten, five from the top 15 and seven of the top 20.
Tickets for the 2009 Malaysian Open Kuala Lumpur are available through TicketPro
www.ticketpro.com.my or via their Hotline: +603 7880 7999, or members of the public can
purchase tickets through TicketPro outlets and to find out the closest one check out http://www.ticketpro.com.my/jnp/ticket-outlets/index.html.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Media Director, Malaysia, Ghaz Ramli at firstname.lastname@example.org OR International Media Director, Craig Gabriel at email@example.com
As I sift through the stellar cast, I wonder how much involved is the Government in terms of organising and financing? Surely these guys are paid appearance fees...Just wondering...