This story is as sweet as it gets. One shy, while the other bubbly and the spokesperson was the first impression I got of Tennis Siblings Sugarray Hakena and Colita Hakena when I met them at the Port Moresby Racquets Club.
Before I tell you more about these two tennis youngsters, let me introduce their parents; Father Raymond Hakena is the drummer and percussionist for Sanguma Band turned businessman from Ieta village, Buka Island in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville and their mother Diana Hasavi popularly known as (former) Radio personality Didi Meri who hails from Finschhafen, Morobe Province and East New Britain.
Sugarray and Colita, who go by Sugarray & Chocolate Tennis PNG on Facebook, are making strides in the game having had their first ever hit out in the Pom Club tournament for Under 12, U14 & U16 in February this year. It was a Mixed Singles format and these youngsters did exceptionally well.
So while I was impressed at their journey so far in the Sport, I couldn’t help but wonder; why tennis? and why sports to begin with? Where did the motivation come from to get into tennis?
I later found out, the mother Diana initially got her children into tennis in efforts to help them stay fit, and two years on, Sugarray and Colita could potentially be the next tennis siblings for Papua New Guinea.
The tennis courts have become their go-to place 5 days a week, since they started out with their mother right there with them every step of the way. This dedication seems to have made a positive impact in their performance as they came out recording top rankings in their first club tourney in February this year.
13-year old Sugarray and 11-year old Colita are making headway with the ultimate goal of finding placings in the ITF Pacific Oceania Training Centre in Fiji.
It was no surprise they are on track to achieving their goal with the likes of the late Kwalam Apisah providing the initial mentorship they needed to get started.
“I had to get them out of the house so I brought them here and with the support of the late tennis Coach Kwalam Apisah, their journey in tennis started”, said Diana.
“They were the late Coach Kwalam Apisah’s last two students so you can only imagine the pain they carry from losing their coach, mentor, everything! The little girl especially was Coach Kwalam’s bestie so it’s been pretty hard on her. So this is their way of keeping their coach’s memory alive by following through with everything he has taught and instilled in them”, added their mother.
To realize their dreams, they’ve engaged former athlete, record holder and sprint sensation Peter Pulu to carry on from where coach left to help develop their strength, agility and mental fitness.
Others who continue to contribute to their training and mentorship include, athlete turned coach Eddie Mera, and another tennis rep Marcia Tere-Apisah who collectively provided the perfect breeding ground for the PNG’s next wave of tennis stars.
“Since the establishment of the POM Racquets Club development program, Sugarray and Colita have showed up for every session and they’ve gone the extra mile by coming here every day of the week and they have come a long way”, said Marcia.
When asked about his first performance in February at the club tournament, Sugarray who finished second in the Singles said, “I was not happy with the results, because I was aiming for the top placing”.
Colita in reflection admitted she was nervous taking on her first competition but she was happy she took on the challenge with her brother where they finished off in 3rd placing in the mixed doubles.
Coach and trainer Marcia pointed out, Sugarray and Colita in fact took on all five events on offer that day.
Now with April nearing, these aspiring tennis reps have a grading tournament to look forward to as they prepare to attend the West Pacific Junior Tournament in Vanuatu come June (2021). Hopefully COVID 19 does not disrupt their journey.
The stakes are high and this sibling duo understand the need to commit to getting better. Both burning with ambition and it really comes as no surprise as they are always in the company of the best tennis players this country has and that’s in the likes of Abigail Tere-Apisah, Marcia Tere-Apisah and Eddie Mera.
Training hasn’t stopped for these upcoming tennis stars and I am keen for the day we get to see this two raising our flag high and proud.
Unit then, this has been a touch of chocolate with extra sugar in Tennis!
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