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Starstruck at Singapore Tennis Open

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ATP250 Singapore Open came and went almost as quick as a wink. By week’s end, we had crowned a new champion, proved that live sporting events can be hosted safely in these pandemic times, and also enjoyed high quality professional tennis action right in our own backyard.

Not to be left out of the week’s action were our ATA kids, some aspiring to one day play in an event like this. Thanks to the generosity of the pro players and coaches, we were able to host three player engagement sessions for our kids, parents, and coaches. Although conducted virtually, the sessions were lively and gave the kids a peek into the lives of a touring pro. It also afforded them the opportunity to ask questions about their tour life, their training regime, and get tips on how to make the most of the junior development days.

Our first session, attended by our ATA players aged seven to 14, featured world #100 Yannick Hanfmann from Germany as our guest pro. Having himself gone through the college pathway before hitting the pro circuit, Yannick was testament to being able to succeed on the tour but also having a university degree tucked under this belt.

After virtually meeting Yannick, the kids developed a special affinity for him and rooted heavily for him. After his first win in Singapore, we organised a short video of the kids sending him congratulatory messages. Needless to say, Yannick was very appreciative of the support, and we’d like to think it helped him through a few good rounds here!

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The second engagement session was held for our ATA coaches and also other coaches from the community. They were very fortunate to be able to tap into the knowledge and experience base of Sven Groeneveld, a familiar face on both the WTA and ATP circuits, having had coaching stints with names like Sharapova, Monica Seles, Arantxa Sánchez Vicario, Mary Pierce, Ana Ivanovic, Caroline Wozniacki, Michael Stich, Greg Rusedski, Nicolas Kiefer, Tommy Haas, Sloane Stephens and now Taro Daniels whom he was with in Singapore. He was very generous with his insights and advice and left the coaches with an invitation to contact him for more if they wished.

Our third session was with the top doubles pair at the tournament – Belgians Joran Vliegen and Sander Gille. Being doubles specialists, the kids asked questions of them that were specific to the doubles game and the tour. This very experienced pair were able to share keen insights and the kids were thrilled at seeing them win the tournament in Singapore!

We look forward to having more such events come to our shores because surely for the kids, being exposed to the professional tour this way is especially beneficial – it gives them a real sense of what being a professional tennis player is like and inspires them to dream big.

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