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Web-only Exclusives
November 30, 2000

From Our Correspondent: Hirohito and the War
A conversation with biographer Herbert Bix

From Our Correspondent: A Rough Road Ahead
Bad news for the Philippines - and some others

From Our Correspondent: Making Enemies
Indonesia needs friends. So why is it picking fights?

Asiaweek Time Asia Now Asiaweek story

PUTTING THE PROBLEMS ASIDE

Indonesia's Games hopefuls must stay focused


GIVEN THE TUMULT THAT has rocked Indonesia in recent weeks, selecting a team for the next Asian Games may seem to have about the same official priority as watering the plants in the public parks. But, come December, when the Indonesians will no doubt be present in Bangkok, a squad will have to be ready and fully trained. So those hoping for a place know they must put the nation's tribulations aside and get on with their own program.

Nobody will be more focused than Yayuk Basuki. The world No. 24 tennis player is having a busy year and is building up for her favorite tournament, Wimbledon, where the grass surface favors her all-action game. She is hoping to go better than last year, when she got through to the quarter finals. But it is going to be tough for the Jokjakarta policeman's daughter, who has only just returned to full strength after developing back problems in 1997.

Basuki, 27, had a miserable time in the French Open in May, where the clinging clay of Roland Garros takes the pace off the ball and works against her fondness for rushing the net. The Indonesian lasted just one hour and six minutes into the tournament, going down 3-6, 2-6 to Spain's Gala Leon Garcia in the opening round. In the women's doubles, she and regular partner Caroline Vis of the Netherlands made it through to the third round. But that's where they ran into 14th-seeded Barbara Schett (Austria) and Patty Schnyder (Switzerland) and exited 1-6, 4-6.

In a land that seems to effortlessly sprout badminton stars, Basuki is something of an oddity. For a start, she has overcome the rigors of the Indonesian climate, which makes putting in four or five hours' practice a day an exhausting way of earning a living. But her exploits since turning professional in 1990 have made her a household name. The Indonesian media follow her every move and she even has her own Web page (www.perspektif.net/yayuk). It promises "everything about the Indonesian jewel, the national sports hero, the best tennis player in all Asia." "Everything" certainly seems to be there, including a touch of exaggeration. Sugiyama Ai of Japan is probably the best female tennis player in Asia (there are no men of note) and, ranked at No. 17 in the world, should start favorite for the Asian title.

Basuki burst onto the international tennis scene in 1991. By December that year, her world ranking had leaped from 266 to 35. Since then, she has consistently maintained her place in the Top 50, with wins against some of the brightest names in the game - including Iva Majoli, Gabriela Sabatini, Mary Joe Fernandez and Lindsay Davenport.

The 1.64-meter (5 ft 4 in) right-hander puts her success down to family support (her husband Suharyadi is her coach), a rigorous training schedule and positive thinking. "Lots of people count on me and believe in my potential," she says. "I take advantage of that trust by working hard and trying not to let those people down." As for Indonesia's chances of picking up at least one tennis gold medal in Bangkok, she sees the Japanese as the biggest challenge. "But I'm confident that I can do it and that our team, with the right hard work, can also do it."

-By Dina Purita Antonio/Jakarta


This edition's table of contents | Asiaweek home

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