It’s not just the world’s top female tennis stars who will be descending upon the island during next week’s 2016 Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Finals Singapore.
Another group of players, all aged 16 and under, are also in town to compete for another title. A junior tournament held alongside the main event, the WTA Future Stars
will in fact see a group of six Singaporean representatives taking part in elite tennis action.
Under-14 players Clare Cheng, Joelle Goh, and Trisha Mulani, as well as Under-16 players Charmaine Seah, Lynelle Lim, and Tammy Tan, are eager to take on this year’s crop of top international juniors on home ground.
Lynelle Lim trains ahead of the WTA Future Stars 2016 tournament at the Kallang Tennis Centre. Photo: SportSG
Speaking ahead of the anticipated competition, these young players elaborated on how playing in Singapore brings another level of significance beyond simply affording them a home court advantage.
Expressing their concerns and enthusiasm, the girls considered the opportunity to compete here a boon.
“It’s definitely nerve-wracking, playing such an important competition on home ground. But Singapore is going in as the underdog, so there isn’t a lot of pressure. Hopefully, I’ll win a few matches. My main aim, though, would be to have fun, play my game, not get too tensed up, and do Singapore proud,” articulated 13-year-old Clare.
Indeed, it is not so much results that the group is gearing towards, but rather the experience and exposure. It is, after all, not every day that they get top international players flying in to spar with them.
As 15-year-old Lynelle explained: “I’ve never played in such a big tournament where all the players come to your country to compete! It’s a great opportunity without having to travel for International Tennis Federation (ITF) tournaments.”
“I’m not at the stage where I’m ready to pay a certain amount to travel for ITF competitions just to get the points. Now, some very good players are coming to our country to play with us!”
With strong players hailing from 17 other nations about to put our local representatives to the test, Team Singapore’s tennis juniors are unsurprisingly excited.
“The players from the other countries obviously have a lot of advantages because they train a lot more and they’re stronger. Many of them don't have to juggle tennis with school like we do. So I think that we should just go in without pressure. We won’t just focus on winning, but also on learning other people’s style of play,” Clare elaborated.
Lynelle Lim (left) and Charmaine Seah of the U16 category in a jump shot post training at the Kallang Tennis Centre. Photo: SportSG
Instead of feeling the stress that comes with playing at home, they’re relishing the advantage that they have been afforded. Revealing that they took comfort in the knowledge that there would be Singaporeans supporting them throughout the competition, the youths shared that they were more motivated than ever.
Of course, their familiarity with the environment here is an added bonus. The squad has been training at the competition venue, Kallang Tennis Centre, since they were young children, and professed to be accustomed to the court type and dimensions.
“It is also more convenient for us. We can stay at home and we have everything we need. Our family can come and watch us too. When we go overseas to compete, our parents don't always follow us. But in Singapore, they’ll be here for us,” added 15-year-old Tammy, a returning Future Star from 2015.
With such a valuable opportunity right at their doorstep, it is no wonder that these up-and-coming stars are keen on making the most of the WTA Future Stars tournament, racking up the experience and exposure needed as they graduate to playing in senior competitions such as the SEA Games.
“I would also like to play more ITF matches and to win next year’s Singapore Open. It would be good if we could have more competitions in Singapore too,” shared Lynelle.
Head down to the Kallang Tennis Centre to show your support for our Team Singapore players as they compete for the WTA Future Stars title from 19 to 23 October!