Ayah not only had a good forehand but he once refereed a football match where former Asian Football Confederation (AFC) supremo Datuk Peter Velappan was playing.
Instead of picking up tennis, I grew up playing football, what else. By the age of 10, I was a member of Darjah Empat Merah that became inter-class champions of St John's Primary (1). I even enjoyed the distinction of scoring with my left foot, a thunderous shot that shaved the bar before crossing the line (there was no net then). While I went on stage to pick up the prize during Awards Day, Adik Man showed a glimpse of his early potential by bagging the English award, I think. It was therefore not a surprise that he became the winner of the Lembaga Tabung Haji Award and the Tan Sri Kadir Award, as best student for Bachelor of Laws and best student for Bachelor of Laws (Syariah) of the IIUM, as reported by the New Straits Times in November 1997. Man's convocation was held 26 days before Ayah passed away peacefully in his sleep in Johor.
Man and the cute-looking soon to be loose cannon with our respective prizes. Even at the age of seven he was almost my size
Despite my love for football, Ayah must have tried to subtly persuade me to try tennis as well because when I was 14, Ayah gave me my first pair of sneakers. It was a pair of Diadora trainers with Bjorn Borg's name to it! Ayah bought them in Singapore during the days when everything across the Causeway was cheaper. Although I was a keen follower of the game and an avid fan of Ivan Lendl and Gabriela Sabatini, I never picked up the racquet. I guess it's too late now.
But the showdown of champions (read the official website) must not be mistaken for the Kings of Tennis here. Whatever it is, tennis fans in Malaysia will be in for a treat. Many moons ago I covered Michael Chang when he came for the Salem Open. This time, Putra Stadium will be graced by legends - Federer, Blake, McEnroe and Borg, champions from two different eras. Penangites will get to meet the likes of Mats Wilander, Stefan Edberg and Marcelo Rios in the flesh!