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Aiman impresses in Singapore
Thursday, September 5, 2013

Mohd Aiman Abdullah's growing experience helped him reach a milestone in July, the quarter-finals of the Prince Pesta Sukan Open/Veteran Tennis Championships 2013 in Singapore.

Brunei's most active touring national player beat opponents from Canada and the Philippines before falling to eventual champion Logan McKenzie in the last-eight of the 64-player July 13-28 tournament.

The previous best for Aiman, who has been the county's sole representative in the men's regional circuit since 2010, came earlier this year when he reached the third round of another tournament in Singapore the Singapore Tennis Association (STA) Open Singles and Doubles 1 in February.

The Prince Pesta Sukan Open/Veteran Tennis Championships was Aiman's fourth tournament of the year and the 20-year-old admitted that past experiences helped shape his campaign at the Kallang Tennis Centre.

"I learn something new in every tournament, so it is this accumulated knowledge that has helped... my mental game has also improved," said Aiman when asked what he attributed his quarter-final finish to.

"I always go into tournaments without any expectations. Sometimes when there are too many expectations, it becomes hard to play.

"Now I just play as if my life depended on every point," added Aiman, who turns 21 on Sunday.

He started off July's competition with a walkover win against South Korea's Kim Tae Yeop in the first round before beating Canadian Harold Lowe 6-2, 6-2 in the second round

He then overcame Filipino Kurt Derrick Santos 6-3, 7-5 in the third round before being denied a place in the semi-finals following a 6-2, 6-2 loss to New Zealand's McKenzie.

Aiman has good memories of his last event in Singapore too.

He stunned top seed Shoki Kasahara1-6, 7-6 (4), 7-5 in a three-hour long first round match at the STA Open Singles and Doubles 1 from January 26-February 3 and then produced a double bagel victory over Brice Barret.

However, a date against Singapore's No 1 Roy Hobbs in the third round, which ended in a 7-5, 3-6, 0-6 loss, ended hopes of a quarter-final berth.

Aiman admitted the walkover win South Korea's Kim helped him because he had an extra day's rest, and though he said his mental game has improved over the years, he still had the jitters before facing off against McKenzie.

"At first I was worried that Logan had more weapons than me," said Aiman.

"But before the match coach (national coach Fan Po Hoa) talked me over the gameplan and I didn't feel nervous. Coach said I had to impose my game plan and get him out of his comfort zone.

"But that loss made us realise that we need to create a weapon or two in terms of pace and accuracy.

"From there, I can create a winning pattern to execute points," he explained.

Despite his early exit, Aiman can take some heart in the fact he was able to stretch McKenzie to 6-2, 6-2 while eventual silver-medalist Selvaraj Ajai only managed 6-1, 6-2 in the final.

Though Aiman is ranked 16th in Singapore, Fan believes Brunei's best player is actually underrated in the city-state.

"I think ability-wise he's in the top-10 in Singapore," said Fan.

"He beat Santos in the third round, and he was the top seed in the doubles," noted the former Singapore junior national team coach.

As per usual, Aiman ended the interview by thanking the Department of Youth and Sports for their continued support in nurturing his career.

"I would like to thank the Department of Youth and Sports for providing good resources for me such as a national coach (Fan) and sport psychologist (Zulkiflee Abdul Hamid)," said Aiman.

"I also want to thank my parents for all their support and the Brunei Darussalam Tennis Association (BDTA) executive committee members."

Courtesy from Brunei Times