Junior tennis players Maka Maui and Noah Ah Kim have beaten the Philippines in straight sets to give themselves a chance at winning their ITF World Junior Tennis Competition pre-qualifying pool.
But the Jakarta win was not without severe challenges: coach Malcolm Kajer’s last-minute decision to reinstate Maui paid off.
It was a bold piece of brinkmanship, after Maui had gone down in an earlier match, and injured his back.
“Just as the match was able to start before the first serve it started raining and play was called off. It rained for the whole day,” Kajer said.
“It was decided by the tournament referee that the doubles would be completed after the Philippines and Singapore tie today.”
Kajer realised that the result of that tie would give him the chance to switch Maka back in the doubles, having had time to recover.
“So I asked the referee and she double-checked the rule book and said, yes, as long as the game hasn’t started.
“As Maka was feeling better and I’ve always known how solid Noah is in doubles, I decided to make the switch – as Maka’s back was better today.
“I told the boys a strong win was required and got them up to the task. Also made them understand that if we could win in straight sets today and win the tie against Singapore tomorrow, we still have a chance to win the pool.
“They played great tennis to win their doubles 6/2 6/1. So it’s all on for tomorrow’s match against Singapore.”
Their next opponent was Singapore – and the result of that tie would determine whether they win their pool.
The boys needed a 3/0 win against Singapore to be certain of advancing further; a 2/1 win would put them into a points count which, said Kajer, “could go any way’.
“So we are still in the fight,” he said.
“Wish us all the best for tomorrow. I had a good talk with the boys and they seem positive.”
The good doubles result came after mixed singles results, with Ah Kim and Maka both going down fighting.
Maka played a long, tough singles match. “The third set was a huge battle as every game went forever with deuce and advantage and the experience of his opponent really showed.
“This game was played in blistering heat. Nevertheless Maka fought to the very last point to the joy of the Filipino crowd supporting their number 1 player.
“We were so close. As usual his head is still very high and we can hope for a better day tomorrow. So proud to able watch Maka play so well against a player of that calibre.”