Yayuk keeps her cool in Olympics chance
JAKARTA (JP): Making her fourth comeback in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney does not make women's tennis player Yayuk Basuki feel like she is an Indonesian superwoman.
Yet for the 29-year-old mother of one, it is an honor to be given another chance to defend the country's name on the court.
"I'm proud to be an Indonesian fighting in the world event. I'm also honored to be able to qualify for this year's Olympics although I am doing it because of a wild card. But it's no big deal. I have taken part in the Olympics three times.
"There's a big difference when playing for a country and playing as a professional tennis player. It's like when I joined the Fed Cup team, I always had motivation to show my best.
"In a professional tournament, I feel that I have to struggle alone. There are no Indonesian players, but there is Yayuk Basuki from Indonesia. In the Fed Cup or Olympics, people talk about your country first before they mention your name," said Yayuk, who turned pro in 1990.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) awarded a wild card to Yayuk and Wynne Prakusya in the women's doubles last Wednesday.
Wynne has also earned one for the singles event in July after a decision from a tripartite commission involving the IOC, the Asian National Olympic Committee (ANOC) and the International Tennis Federation (ITF).
It was Yayuk's first wild card for the Olympics' doubles event. Yayuk has competed in the singles event since the 1988 Games in Seoul and kicked off her performances in the doubles event four years later.
"I'm not too ambitious about the Olympics. But it's quite an honor to be able to perform in four Olympics," she said.
In the 1992 Games in Barcelona, Yayuk and partner Suzanna Anggarkusuma Wibowo automatically qualified due to their world rank. The pair bowed out in the first round to the German duo of Steffi Graf and Anke Huber.
IOC issued a special invitation for Yayuk and partner Romana Tedjakusuma to participate in the 1996 Games in Atlanta, Georgia, and this time, they went nowhere as they were sent out of the first round by Jana Novotna and Helena Sukova of the Czech Republic.
Despite the bittersweet outcome in two consecutive events, Yayuk is optimistic about being able to pass the first round.
"If we don't meet the seeded players in the first round, we have a big chance to advance. I can't promise anything if we play the Williams sisters in the first round. I might have to use a helmet when we are in action. But I hope we can reach the quarterfinals," she said.
She was referring to Serena and Venus Williams, the new tennis idols from the United States.
Yayuk said she had been partnered with Wynne since the 1998 Asian Games in Bangkok. Yayuk won the gold medal in the women's singles event.
"We will not warm up as a doubles team in any tournament. We only practice together at Ragunan tennis court in South Jakarta," she said.
She was optimistic that she and Wynne could outshine other Asian doubles players who qualified for the quadrennial event.
"We may face a tough challenge from the Japanese pair of Ai Sugiyama and Nana Miyagi. Their skills are above the others," she said.
She said she trained together with her husband Suharyadi, Tintus Arianto Wibowo and Surya Wijaya.
"I'm still fit to play in the doubles event because a doubles player only covers half the court," said Yayuk, who just received the "2000 award for service to the game" from ITF for her long- time participation in the Fed Cup.
"I joined the Fed Cup team in 1985 when I was 15."
Suzanna is accompanying Wynne, who is training at LGA training camp in Orlando, Florida. Wynne will try her luck in the U.S. Open from Aug. 28 to Sept. 10. She will play in the singles and doubles event with Janet Lee of Chinese Taipei. (ivy)