‘SLTA has put Sarawak on the world map’

Liew (fourth left) receives the CM's Cup from Abang Johari (third right) while other SLTA organising committee members look on.

KUCHING, March 16: The Sarawak Lawn Tennis Association (SLTA) had and will continue to contribute to the state’s sports tourism after putting Kuching, Sarawak on the world map while contributing to the economy.

SLTA president Datuk Patrick Liew said over the past 20 years, the association had organised international tournaments such as the International Tennis Federation (ITF) Junior Davis Cup and the Fed Cup in Kuching. It has brought in more than 200 overseas players and countless visitors into the city as well as raking in an average of about RM4 million yearly for the state’s economy.

Speaking to reporters after receiving the Chief Minister’s (CM’s) Cup, for the ongoing 31st CM’s Cup (I) ITF Junior (under 18) Tennis Championship (Grade 1), from Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg at Wisma Bapa Malaysia here today, Liew said each year SLTA organises these international sporting events, it had received numerous compliments from ITF as well as overseas players, coaches and parents of players.

“We have been organising CM’s Cup for the last 20 years and are still going strong. Participants have also been very strong. Each year SLTA never fails to bring in over 20 countries participating with more than 200 players, coaches and parents coming. I think it also makes Sarawak proud to be able to attract overseas players to become a part of the important event in the ITF calendar.

“Based on our past years’ data and estimation, we contribute about RM4 million per year to the state’s economy. So this is a significant contribution to our sports tourism. Of course, recalling the year 1999 when we started to first organise these international events, many people didn’t even know where Kuching is and they can’t even find us on the map. So many of them (overseas players, coaches and parents) landed in Kuala Lumpur.

“Now all of them know where Kuching, Sarawak is already. In fact most of them after going back home to their country, they always refer this (Kuching, Sarawak) to their friends, saying it is a must-play tournament in Sarawak, because they love the food, the culture, scenery, cleanliness, fresh air, and there is not much traffic jams. They were very happy and we see many of them coming for the tournaments are repeat participants, coming again and again each year, although some of them are over-aged, but they still bring in the younger players.

“Throughout the years, we saw many of these players also playing in grand slam tournaments like the Australian Open, US Open, Wimbledon Open or French Open. So we can see these professional players definitely remember they have played in Kuching, Sarawak, and at least we can sell Sarawak very well in that respect,” he said.

Liew also thanked the state government for its continuous efforts in assisting and and sponsoring SLTA in organising international sporting events every year.

SLTA is hosting the 31st CM’s Cup (I) ITF Junior Tennis Championship (Grade 1), from March 13 till 18, with the participation of 28 countries with players comprising 34 boys and 33 girls.

Liew also announced that this coming April 7 to 21, SLTA will be organising the ITF Junior Davis Cup and the ITF Junior Fed Cup.

He expects to see a total of 16 boys’ and 16 girls’ teams from over 20 countries participating in these two tournaments. — DayakDaily