Amidst the excitement of Singapore playing host to the prestigious WTA Finals, national tennis player Sarah Pang is setting her sights on the next major sporting event – the Singapore 2015 SEA Games.
The WTA Elite Eight players, including household names like Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova, have caused quite a stir with their presence in Singapore.
Poised to battle it out for the WTA Finals crown, the world’s leading female players are expected to draw in the crowds to the Singapore Sports Hub and eventually fuel an increased interest in tennis.
According to Sarah, hosting major sporting affairs such as the 2014 WTA Finals, which marks the famed tournament’s first foray into Southeast Asia, and the upcoming Singapore 2015 SEA Games, will do much more than just draw attention to the local sporting scene.
“Recently we had the Japan versus Brazil match and for the first time we had the Sports Hub full and there was all these people cheering. I wasn’t there because I had to practice, but I saw videos of it and just watching it really sent goose bumps up my arms, because it reminded me of the power of sport to bring a nation together,” she pointed out.
“You could be sitting next to someone who is of a totally different social-sphere from yours, but because you see someone playing on the pitch, you’re screaming and yelling, and you become instant friends. That’s what I think (the) SEA Games can really do for Singapore, and I really look forward to it.”
Sarah with a participant at SportCares "Love Singapore"Tennis Clinic that featured WTA stars Simona Halep & Eugenie Bouchard.
With the WTA Finals making Singapore its home for the next five years, the 29-year old sees the decision as a notable sign of growth for Singapore tennis.
“Well, we’ve won the rights to host the championships for the next five years, so as a tennis player, the biggest thing that shows me is commitment- commitment to developing the sport and to showcasing it on a consistent level,” Sarah said.
“That’s fantastic because, in a certain way, that’s really how an athlete’s journey is. It’s about commitment, staying the course, and staying true to it.”
Commitment to tennis is something Sarah herself embodies, as she looks towards two primary goals – preparing to be one of Singapore’s tennis representatives at the SEA Games after some 22 years, and earning a WTA ranking.
With those targets in mind, Sarah moves back and forth throughout the week, from working at Sport Singapore to working out on the court.
“I’m a working athlete, so naturally it’s a real stretch to balance this. I’m in the midst of looking for sponsors so that I can go back to playing full time, prepare for the SEA Games and then break into the WTA. A typical working day is waking up at about six or seven, going for practice, clocking a solid session in the morning, and then coming to work,” she shared.
“I bring food from home because it’s more nutritious, and easier to refuel well in between work and my practice sessions. I will have lunch, try to take a short nap, get through the rest of the work day, and then do my evening practice session (gym or on court). When I’m home, I hit the sack pretty quick, and the cycle goes on again. Typically, a normal day is easily 14-16 hours. This goes on for five and half or six days a week.”
As tough as it is, Sarah would not have it any other way though, with the chance to be part of a momentous SEA Games on the horizon.
“Tennis hasn’t sent in a team for the past 22 years, or maybe even more actually, so I’m very excited to have the opportunity to be part of that,” she stated.
“There are not many moments in your life that you get to be a part of history, so that’s going to be awesome.”
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