Over the past few weeks, tennis players from Singapore and all around the world have been competing in the ITF Men $15k Futures and ITF Women Circuit $25k tournaments, hosted at the Kallang Tennis Centre.
During such competitions, the spotlight is usually cast on the players, who sacrifice their blood, sweat, and tears to shine on the court, but the competitors are just one aspect of an organised tournament.
Sports volunteers, for example, play vital roles as well, ensuring things flow smoothly on game day.
George Ong, a Team Nila volunteer. Photo: Sport Singapore
George Ong, a Team Nila volunteer, explained his role for this series of competitions: “For this tournament, I’m the games service officer, so that means I do the set-up prior to the game starting, for the umpire and the players.”
“I used to play tennis - that’s the reason why I volunteer for this. I can help out with everything, because being an ex-player, I am quite familiar with [what is needed],” he continued.
Besides tennis events, Ong has also volunteered at the Singapore National Games and other GetActive! Singapore activities, kickstarting his sport volunteer journey when Team Nila was set up in 2015.
Driven by his passion for tennis, and support for the local sports scene, Ong felt volunteering was a great way to impart the knowledge he has gained from being a former player and “give back to society”.
He enthused: “I don’t expect anything in return! Even though I don’t get paid, I’m very happy to participate.”
“[When I’m free], I stand and watch the matches. If I don’t come here to watch, I watch [sports] on TV! I subscribe to all the sports channels,” enthused the 65-year-old freelance consultant engineer.
Team Nila volunteer Nicholas Kong. Photo: Sport Singapore
Fellow volunteer Nicholas Kong, who is spending his university summer break in Singapore, concurred that volunteering was a great opportunity for him to be involved in sport without having to take to the courts. “Even though you may not be the one playing, you still have the opportunity to be here, to be involved, enjoy the atmosphere, and to watch the matches,” said the 21-year-old, who used to play tennis at a junior level.
After stepping down from competing, the university undergraduate remained involved with the tennis community by volunteering at events, taking charge of game services and booking courts for player practice sessions.
“The players here are playing at really high levels, and it’s at a level that I was never at, so it’s interesting to see how they actually practice and train for this tournament,” added Kong, who still plays recreational tennis with his friends.
It is not only those who used to play competitively that are excited about the sport’s presence in Singapore though either, as tennis umpire Tan Ming Kai will have you know.
Tennis umpire Tan Ming Kai. Photo: Sport Singapore
“I don’t play tennis well, but I watched a lot of it since [I was] young, and now I’m involved in the sport as well,” said the 30-year-old, who got his umpiring certification in 2016.
Speaking about what he gains from being an umpire, he expressed: “You are not only becoming an umpire, but you are becoming a bigger fan of tennis because you learn so much more.”
“When you think you did a good job and the players appreciate what you do as well, you feel like you have already contributed to the sport,” Tan added.
The stories and experiences shared by George, Nicholas, and Ming Kai demonstrate that anyone can play a part in sport, even without competing. If you wish to find out how you can contribute your time, sign up as a Team Nila volunteer today!