It is not every day that you get to meet a world-renowned sporting legend, which was perhaps why the tennis courts at Heartbeat@Bedok were packed with youth tennis players, TeamSG athletes, parents, and coaches alike on 31 Aug.
In Singapore to launch the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Documentary, former world no. 1 tennis player Martina Hingis had taken the time to engage with the local sporting community during a two-hour session, in a bid to inspire up-and-coming generations of athletes.
Former world no. 1 tennis player Martina Hingis. Photo: Sport Singapore
Hingis, who retired last October after the WTA Finals in Singapore, said: “Tennis has given me so much – a great life to travel around, make friends, and socialise. It’s time to give back, to come here and play with some of the kids. They are the future of tennis! Hopefully I’ll motivate them to continue playing the game.”
The engagement session included a tennis clinic led by coaches from the ActiveSG Tennis Academy and Singapore Tennis Association, where over 40 youth tennis players and TeamSG athletes got to exchange strokes with Hingis.
A young participant sparring with Martina Hingis. Photo: Sport Singapore
Nine-year-old Mika Aidan Mohd Yazed, a youth player from the ActiveSG Tennis Academy, had been thrilled by the opportunity, remarking that meeting an international ace and learning from her was a rare experience indeed.
He elaborated: “I learnt that she was the youngest Grand Slam winner. I usually get to see the national team players play but today, I got up-close with a professional tennis player and learnt important lessons from her!”
Alexis Lee and her son, Mika Aidan Mohd Yazed, a youth player from the ActiveSG Tennis Academy. Photo: Sport Singapore
His mother, Alexis Lee, added: “I didn’t expect Hingis to be so friendly and forthcoming in sharing her experiences and tips. The best part was that each and every one of them got the chance to play with her.”
Besides sparring with the participants, Hingis also demonstrated a tennis drill that her mother, who was also her coach, used to train her with. Some of the players present even got the chance to be coached personally by the tennis star, picking up useful tips.
As a visual learner, tennis national squad player Izabella Tan found the demonstration beneficial to her own training. She shared: “When I saw her play, I specifically looked at the techniques that I have been taught in my own training, and I see how she applies them.”
Hingis, who became the youngest Grand Slam winner and world number one at 16 years old, answered questions from the young athletes as well, motivating them through her own experiences. She spoke about her pre-competition routines, tips on recovering from injuries, how to remain calm on court, and more.
Tennis National Squad player Izabella Tan. Photo: Sport Singapore
Expressing how this insight into the mind of an elite athlete was inspiring to our local youth ones, 19-year-old Tan noted: “I think having a professional player come down here really helps to solidify [the younger players’] tennis dreams – we have a role model to learn from, achievements that we can work towards.”
Of course, it wasn’t just tennis enthusiasts and players who were impacted by the session, for Hingis’ advice could certainly be applied across different sports.
As TeamSG gymnast Zon Liew enthused: “Being able to meet a world-class athlete is a very eye-opening experience. It’s a good chance for me to engage with her. It’s not an opportunity that Singapore athletes get every other day!”
He continued: “When top athletes come to Singapore, they help raise awareness of local sports and, possibly, increase their popularity, helping to attract more people to support us in any way that they can.”
After the fruitful session, it was clear that interactions with sports stars such as Hingis offered our youth a lot more than just that fan-selfie moment. Beyond that, our budding stars will ultimately be able to draw inspiration from these pros as they strive towards bigger and better on their individual sporting journeys.
Tickets to the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global are on sale at www.WTAFinals.com, an immersive one-stop destination for all things tournament-related, bringing fans the latest news from the top players on their journey on the Porsche Race to Singapore.