Two lucky young participants were all smiles at the SportCares clinic which saw them meeting four WTA stars in person. They were part of 40 tennis participants who were at the session. Photo: SportSG
Following the success of last year’s Love Singapore Tennis Clinic, SportCares has once again partnered up with the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Finals to host the second edition of the clinic on 24 October 2015. Organised in conjunction with the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, the event witnessed some 40 SportCares tennis enthusiasts from the community meeting and playing with the WTA Stars.
“It was such a pleasure meeting the girls from SportCares. I was impressed by their willingness to learn and improve as well as by their undeniable love for the game,” said Baethanie Mattek-Sands, one of four WTA players who were present at the clinic.
Together with Racquel Kops-Jones, Abigail Spears and Caroline Garcia, the four WTA stars took time off their training schedule to exchange rallies and share tennis tips with the SportCares youth.
The tennis clinic is part of SportCares’ Love Tennis programme, a tennis and character development initiative for underprivileged youth. The programme aims to maximise each youth’s full potential on and off the court – teaching them the game of tennis and helping them develop positive attitudes and behaviours, such as good sportsmanship, self-discipline, integrity and respect for others.
Through the clinic, SportCares hopes the opportunity to meet-up with big tennis stars will motivate these youth to strive towards a brighter future.
Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Culture, Community, and Youth (right) looks on as a SportCares clinic participant juggles a tennis ball. Photo: SportSG
“Today’s event has given the kids a sense of community with people they would normally not have the opportunity to see. So for us, a clinic like this is always an opportunity for social inclusion, community bridging, and personal empowerment. The actual sport may not be the most important thing. It’s what we hope to get out of it. And always, it’s a better future for the kids,” revealed Ms Laura Reid, Deputy Director of SportCares Foundation.
Hosting the clinic also fulfils WTA’s commitment in actively engaging communities. “When Billie Jean King founded the WTA, her vision was that any girl, anywhere in the world, no matter what her background, should be able to play tennis and earn a living from the sport, if they wish,” expressed Melissa Pine, Tournament Director of the WTA Finals and Vice President of WTA Asia Pacific.
“Clinics like this enable players to come and give back and endeavour to nurture future generations to set goals and achieve their goals, whatever those may be,” she added.
Supported by the US Embassy Singapore, the clinic was graced by Minister for Culture, Community, and Youth, Ms Grace Fu; as well as WTA President Micky Lawler, and U.S. Ambassador to Singapore, H.E. Mr Kirk Wagar.
The SportCares youth were also treated to much more than just on-court activities with tennis stars. The young tennis enthusiasts from the Love Singapore girls tennis programme had, prior to the clinic, undergone handicraft classes and prepared 42 handmade bracelets for all the WTA Finals players, Legends and Rising Stars.
A young SportCares tennis participant attempts to return a serve from WTA star Abigail Spears. Photo: SportSG
They were also invited to participate in the official draw ceremony – taking selfies with the players before they took to the purple carpet, where one lucky girl was chosen to draw a chip for the Doubles Players draw. The children and youth will also be volunteering during the competition period at the Fanzone, cheering in Fan Clubs for Simona Halep and Angelique Kerber, and one talented 11-year old Lyla Medina volunteering as a WTA Finals ball kid.
10-year-old Nur Alia Maisara Binte Malek, a pioneer Love Singapore girl, shared her experience with the stars: “I went for the draw ceremony and got to ask Martina [Hingis] a question. I also presented our handmade bracelets to special guests at the clinic!”
“I was a bit nervous at first, but I was confident enough to talk to the stars and present the gift that I had put in all my effort to make. I feel proud of myself, and I really enjoyed the clinic today. The WTA stars have inspired me by showing me how great their skills are. They do their best in everything that they do, and I hope to be just like them.”