The annual SEA Juniors Tournament is expected to be a significant competition that will help nurture Singapore's youths and ensure the next generation of tennis players will be stronger than before. Photo: Recayo Aguelo/SportSG
Amid the flurry of elite sporting action on display at the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Finals, there exists a group of equally passionate players all ready to go up against each other on the court.
The Southeast Asian (SEA) Junior Tournament, which is currently being held at the Kallang Tennis Centre, is just a stone’s throw away from all the WTA excitement at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, and boasts some of the best young players from around the region.
Ahead of the exciting clashes between Southeast Asia’s up-and-coming talents, we sat down with a few members of the Singapore squad and found out just how beneficial the tournament was to the nation’s tennis scene.
Generally perceived by the local juniors and their coaches to be a step in the right direction for regional tennis, the annual SEA Juniors Tournament is expected to be a significant competition that will help nurture the youths and ensure that Singapore’s next generation of tennis players will be stronger than before.
“It’s a good way for them to find out where they stand, gain experience, and learn which aspects of their playing they should improve on,” explained Hassan Bohari, who coaches the Singapore Under-16 team.
As the junior players themselves revealed, Singapore’s tennis scene has, over the past few years, faced a dearth of opportunities available for them to compete against international rivals. Under-14 player Robin Cheng pointed out: “Singapore is quite small and there aren’t many different players to compete against.”
“We always play one another. So we really need to have more tournaments like this in order to gain experience and perform better in regional and international competitions,” concurred his teammate Tessa Wong, who had participated in the recently concluded WTA Future Stars competition.
Indeed, the SEA Juniors Tournament has already produced one local success story: Shaheed Alam. An alumnus of the competition, he graduated to playing at the 28th SEA Games for the first time this year.
“Last year’s SEA Juniors Tournament was an eye-opener for Shaheed – he realised how hard he had to work! We’ve got to go out and play the big players. It’s not just about how hard you train,” remarked Hassan.
Commenting on the “good potential” that the current team has shown so far, Nandagopal Balasubramaniam, who coaches the Under-12 and Under-14 teams, shared: “If the countries in our region hold tournaments like this more regularly, the standards all round will go up. They don’t have to be official tournaments, but match experience will definitely help the juniors in the long run.”
For now, this year’s SEA Juniors Tournament would, hopefully, prove to be a good-enough springboard for the young players, who are looking to gain valuable experience and enjoy themselves.
The SEA Juniors Tournament will run till 1 November. Catch the future of Singapore tennis in action at the Kallang Tennis Centre!