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WTA Future Stars beckons for S’pore duo

SINGAPORE — The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Finals will start a five-year run here next month (Oct 17 to 26), bringing the world’s best women’s tennis players to Singapore’s shores.

WTA Future Stars beckons for S’pore duo

WTA future stars: Ashley Yim and Nicole Tan. Photo: Mark Clemente/WTA

SINGAPORE — The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Finals will start a five-year run here next month (Oct 17 to 26), bringing the world’s best women’s tennis players to Singapore’s shores.

But for Nicole Tan, 16, and Ashley Yim, 14, it will also be the most exciting time of their fledgling tennis careers. Nicole and Ashley have won their places in the WTA Future Stars event (Oct 17 to 20), to feature the top juniors from the Asia-Pacific region.

Both topped their age groups after a week-long qualifier this month which also earned them places in the South-east Asian Junior Championships, a team event that comprises two girls and two boys per nation in Under-12, Under-14 and Under-16 categories.

While both harbour hopes of pursuing collegiate tennis in the United States, their paths have been different.

Ashley is enrolled at the Singapore Sports School as part of the Singapore Tennis Association full-time programme, where her routine involves a balance of studies and training, and days begin at 6.30am and end at 9pm.

Nicole, who is based in Shanghai where she has been since she was five, started this week with the Laurel Springs Online School, an online US high school diploma course to give her greater flexibility to travel for tournaments.

“It was pretty difficult (before) because every day after school, I’d go for training, and it would be 8.30pm before I could sit down and actually do my school work,” said Nicole, who started off training with former China national player Fu Lin.

But both girls know it is hard to shrug off the “tennis fever” once they had caught it, and it is a matter of making the most of each day.

For Ashley, the romance began after she saw her brother taking tennis lessons. She said: “I wanted to join him because I really look up to him. And I just instantly fell in love with it.”

Representing Singapore next month will reap further rewards for the girls as both will be given all-access passes to be near their tennis idols.

Ashley could get as close as handing a towel or even tossing a ball to Serena Williams — she has also been selected as a ball kid. JEAN IAU

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