Brunei's Muhd Nurul Andi Hambali Abdullah in action during the International Tennis Federation (ITF) Junior Circuit at the National Tennis Centre of the Hassanal Bolkiah National Sports Complex in Berakas yesterday. BT/ Ak Syarif Pg Salleh
It has been another year and another round of disappointment for the Bruneians at the International Tennis Federation (ITF) Junior Circuit.
Both of the country's representatives bowed out at the very first round of the 49th edition of the competition yesterday, where Muhd Nurul Andi Hambali Abdullah lost 6-3, 6-1 to Indonesia's Mohammad Iqbal Anshori and Zen Sii - one of the tournament's youngest players at 13 - lost 6-0, 6-0 to Indonesia's Akhbar Farraz Haidar.
The previous edition of the tournament in December saw Mohd Nurul Andi Hambali and Law Vi Chen also fall in the first round, Mohd Nurul Andi Hambali eliminated 7-5, 6-1 by Jerome Romualdez while Law suffered a 6-0, 6-0 thrashing at the hands of Joachim Samson.
Mohd Nurul Andi Hambali controlled the first few points early in yesterday's game and was serving better, but Mohammad Iqbal would eventually grow into the game and win the first set.
The second set saw Mohammad Iqbal dominate, making shots at seemingly impossible angles as Mohd Nurul Andi Hambali committed a number of unforced errors and was unable to get back into the match.
"I think I played well in the first set but my opponent today was very good. He read my game very well," said Mohd Nurul Andi Hambali in an interview with The Brunei Times.
"I don't know what happened in the second set (as) none of my shots went in.I tried to look for his weaknesses in the second set but he (Mohammad Iqbal) plays with a lot of strategy and movement," he said after the match at the National Tennis Centre of the Hassanal Bolkiah National Sports Complex in Berakas.
The national duo, however, will still see more action in the tournament as they will be competing in doubles event today.
Mohd Nurul Andi Hambali will partner Haekal Ramadhan from Indonesia while Zen Sii will pair Chen Chih Kuan from Chinese Taipei.
Top seed Nawakam Khunjan from Thailand defeated Seth En Teoh from Singapore 6-0, 6-1 to outline his status as one of the favourites in the battle for the boy's singles title.
"It is very good to be here. The weather is hot but it is nice," noted Khunjan.
"This is my third time in Brunei and this time I am aiming to reach the final in singles," he added.
Hendrawan Susanto defeated fourth seed Bryan Husin 6-4, 6-4 to win the singles category last year while Saya Usui from Japan walked away with the girl's singles title after she took out fifth seed Damarsari Arrum from Indonesia 6-4, 6-1.
Achmadi Prayoga and Hutauruk Tio Juliandi of Indonesia took the boy's doubles title after defeating third seeds and fellow countrymen Anthony Susanto and Christian Alvin Edison 6-2, 6-4 in the final.
Meanwhile in the girl's doubles, No 1 seeds Miyo Kobayashi from Japan and Arrum from Indonesia outclassed Japan's Usai and Yuri Katano 6-3, 6-0.
A total of 132 players from 20 countries are competing in this year's tournament.
"We have a very good turn out this time and I hope the public can come to watch and support our local players in action since this is a very good tournament," said Abdul Rasheed Abdullah, one of the organising committee's members.