Thailand continue tennis dominance
Thailand's tennis players asserted their dominance at the South-east Asia (SEA) Games yesterday, sweeping the men's and women's team golds.
Guided by former men's top-10 player Paradorn Srichaphan, twins Sanchai and Sonchat Ratiwatana beat Indonesia's Christopher Rungkat and Sunu Wahyu Trijati in the deciding doubles to earn Thailand a 2-1 win in the men's team final.
Their female counterparts triumphed by the same score, after veterans Noppawan Lertcheewakarn and Tamarine Tanasugarn stormed to a 6-0, 6-2 win over Filipinas Denise Dy and Katharina Lehnert, also in the doubles decider.
Crediting Thailand's double gold feat to experience and focus, Paradorn said: "We expected to reach the final for both men and women, but we knew today would be tough.
"We're very happy about the result because we won the gold medal."
The 35-year-old, who has four SEA Games gold medals to his name, insisted his expertise had little to do with Thailand's success here.
"I didn't have to do much as a coach, because the players already have the experience," said Paradorn.
"What I did was talk to them in a positive way to encourage them during the match."
Paradorn claims Thailand's tennis success can be attributed to belief and perseverance.
He said: "It's just that we believe we can groom a good player and we continue doing it.
"It's all about belief and carrying on without doubt."
Tamarine, the 2008 Wimbledon quarter-finalist, paid tribute to the Lawn Tennis Association of Thailand for the country's achievements.
The 38-year-old said: "Tennis is not quite as big a sport in Thailand as football and boxing, which are the most popular sports.
"Tennis is a small community, but our president (Suwat Liptapanlop) is very keen to improve tennis for Thailand and Asia."
Tamarine, who won three gold medals at the 2009 Games in Laos, was once ranked in the world's top 20.
She says there is no reason why Singapore cannot emulate Thailand's success in the sport.
"I know education in Singapore is very important, so it's tough," she said.
"But I think if you're really determined to nurture someone to become a really good tennis player, you can do it."
Paradorn agreed, adding that competing overseas would benefit the Republic's players.
He said: "Singapore has a lot of potential, with the right finances and facilities but, sometimes, the players are just not ready.
"Sending them for more overseas competitions will allow them better playing experience to take Singapore tennis to the next level."
MEN'S TEAM FINAL:
Thailand 2 Indonesia 1
- Aditya Sasongko (Ina) bt Kittiphong Wachiramano (Tha) 6-4, 7-5
- Danai Udomchoke (Tha) bt Christopher Rungkat (Ina) 6-0, 6-4
- Sonchat Ratiwatana/Sanchai Ratiwatana (Tha) bt Rungkat/Sunu Wahyu Trijati (Ina) 6-4, 6-4
WOMEN'S TEAM FINAL:
Thailand 2 Philippines 1
- Varatchaya Wongteanchai (Tha) bt Khim Iglupas (Phi) 6-2, 6-2
- Katharina Lehnert (Phi) bt Luksika Kumkhum (Tha) 2-6, 7-5, 7-6(3)
- Tamarine Tanasugarn/Noppawan Lertcheewakarn (Tha) bt Lehnert/Denise Dy (Phi) 6-0, 6-2
MEN'S SINGLES 1ST RD:
- Isaac Ong lost to Nguyen Hoang (Vie) 6-3, 2-6, 6-4
WOMEN'S SINGLES 2ND RD:
- Wee Khee Yen lost to Daravy Ka Andrea (Cam) 6-1, 6-2
MEN'S DOUBLES 1ST RD:
- Sherwin Foo/Muhammad Meqsud Alam lost to Francis Alcantara/Treat Huey (Phi) 6-2, 6-2
MIXED DOUBLES 2ND RD:
- Sarah Pang/Joshua Liu bt Dala Nilaxay/Somchay Phaphithak (Lao) 7-5, 7-5.
Ong tied for second in men's individual event
Singapore golfer Marc Ong (above) got off to a good start in the men's golf tournament at Sentosa Golf Club's Serapong course yesterday, when he played a two-under 70 to share second spot on the leaderboard.
Thailand's Tawan Phongphun leads with a 69 after the first round, with compatriot Natipong Srithong and Ong one stroke behind.
Singapore's Johnson Poh is joint-fourth after a 72, while Jonathan Woo (73) is tied for sixth.
The Republic rank second in the team standings with 215, one stroke behind Thailand.
Lee twins win silver in 3m springboard
Timothy and Mark Lee delivered a silver medal in the men's 3m synchronised springboard final yesterday.
The twin brothers scored 381.78, behind Malaysian winners Ooi Tze Liang and Ahmad Amsyar Azman (409.56). Indonesia's Akhmad Sukran Jamjami and Adityo Restu Putra came in third (342.45).
In the women's 10m platform, Malaysia's Pandelela Rinong easily clinched the title with a score of 353 as Malaysia ended the diving competition with a clean sweep of all eight golds.
Compatriot Loh Zhiayi finished second with 305.25, while Singapore's Freida Lim came in third with 251.70.
Singapore diving contingent ended their SEA Games campaign with three silvers and four bronzes.
Thailand win sepak takraw team gold
Thailand grabbed the gold in the sepak takraw men's team event yesterday, after downing Indonesia 3-0 at Expo Hall 1.
Second place went to Malaysia, who beat Singapore 2-1. Singapore lost all their three matches in the team event.
They finished bottom of the four-team group, behind Indonesia.