A Peek Behind The Scenes @ the 2016 WTA Tennis Finals

She has a hectic weekly training regime comprising of intense gym sessions with weights and strength equipment, 30 minutes of running, and body weight exercises such as squats and weights. And this takes place on top of several hours of tennis training.

But to the 23-year-old professional tennis player Kristina Mladenovic, this strict training regime is important to get her in optimum shape for her tennis matches.

We were invited to a behind-the-scenes session of the 2016 WTA Finals.

We were invited to a behind-the-scenes session of the 2016 WTA Finals.

Said Mladenovic, “The training helps me to be more explosive so that I can fly on the court.”

Speaking at a meet & greet session

She had been speaking during a meet & greet session in Singapore at the WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) sponsored by the Usana Health Sciences – the official Health Supplement Suppliers of the WTA since 2006.

The 2016 edition of the WTA Finals is currently in Singapore till Sunday – and sees the top eight women tennis players contesting in the season-ending tournament at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, for a record US$7 million in prize money.

Q&A with Kristina Mladenovic.

Q&A with Kristina Mladenovic.

Mladenovic, who has been a Usana brand ambassador for the past two years, also shared at the session that the Usana supplements have helped her in terms of boosting her energy levels when she is tired.

Said the player, “My regime is intense and as part of my work I also have to travel a lot to play matches. Before coming to Singapore, I was in Hong Kong and Moscow, so the jet lag and the climate change in Singapore hit me quite hard. So I have been taking a lot of boosters and these help me to stay alert and energetic.”

Good nutrition is key to high level athletes

Having good nutrition is definitely key for high level performance athletes, according to Kathleen Stroir, Senior Vice President for Sport Sciences & Medicine and Transitions, WTA Tour. She said, “For athletes, nutrition is the No 1 key to their health and development. In fact many athletes on the WTA Tour have designated pre-match meals, strict regimes and fuelling or hydration needs.”

Kristina also took photo and autograph requests from invited guests.

Kristina also took photo and autograph requests from invited guests.

She added, “In fact if the hydration levels of our WTA players drop to just one per cent below their required amount, then their performance drops immediately. But with many athletes travelling the world and having high demands in their sport, it is hard to get all the nutrition that they need, through their food. That is where Usana supplements come in; to help them to get the nutrition that they cannot get from their food.”

Strior also quickly pointed out that the Usana products are certified by the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) and meets its regulations of what athletes at the top level are permitted to take.

Getting up closer to the Billy Jean King Trophy, the actual thing, not a replica.

Getting up closer to the Billie Jean King Trophy, the actual thing, not a replica.

Recreational athletes could also benefit from Usana products

And for a recreational athlete who is holding down a full-time day job, Mladenovic also thinks that the Usana products can help them to meet the demands of their day too.

Said the player, “I am a high level athlete, but many normal people out there have a similar type of lifestyle; my work is more of physical practising, but for many working professionals, their jobs can take a lot of energy out of them. And training before or after work is even more exhausting.”

A behind-the-scenes tour

Sitting on the "hot seat" in the press conference room.

Sitting on the “hot seat” in the press conference room.

Thanks to Usana, who had invited us to the session, I also had a chance to have a behind-the-scenes sneak peek into normally prohibited areas for the public at the 2016 WTA event.

So we took a look at the media centre and press centre, and some of us could not resist pretending to be tennis players giving an interview in the hot seat. For the WTA players though, whether they win or lose, they are obliged to give such interviews; so this means it is not always a fun experience to be grilled by the media!

We saw for ourselves how a tennis racquet is strung too. It was interesting to know that each player uses an average of four to five tennis racquets per game and that it takes about 20 minutes to string each racquet.

Interview in progress at the press centre.

An interview in progress at the press centre.

As well, we also had the chance to head court-side at the Singapore Indoor Stadium and get a close up look at a practice session taking place. It had been a rare opportunity to be so close to the action, and something that I would not forget.

Also we had a look at the media broadcast area and met a couple of members of the TV production crew at the WTA. Though they had not actually been on air when we dropped by, it was nevertheless exciting to see the broadcasting set-up for a major sporting event; this segment strongly brought back memories of my television broadcasting classes during my media & communications studies.

Evening had ended with a tennis treat

Billy Jean King Suite at the Racquet Club.

Our dinner venue: The Billie Jean King Suite at the Racquet Club.

Following the behind-the-scenes tour, we had a buffet dinner at the Racquet Club before then heading out to the Singapore Indoor Stadium to catch the day’s evening matches. It was a treat watching the World No. 1 Angelique Kerber taking on Madison Keys, the youngest player to have qualified for the WTA Finals in Singapore at 21 years of age.

In the match, Kerber had unsurprisingly won in straight sets to put herself through to the semi-finals, but she had put on display a tennis masterclass in the process.

We got to watch the tennis in action at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

We got to watch the tennis in action at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

The crowds had also cheered and clapped enthusiastically each time the two players had dished up a scintillating rally, which had happened several times during the game. But in the end though, Keys’s errors had proven to be her undoing in the match.

Overall the WTA experience had been definitely an interesting one. Thanks again to Usana for the invitation.

Meeting Ana Ivanovic and Simona Halep

Play and Learn Tennis in Singapore

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