Yesterday, the dreams of about 50 student tennis players came true – at Raffles Institution.
That’s because they got a rare chance to play against two of the world’s top female tennis players – Ana Ivanovic and Simona Halep. (Ivanovic is ranked seventh in the world while Halep is third).
A nerve-wracking experience
Robert Liang, a 17-year-old JC1 student at Raffles Institution, was one of the lucky student players who got the opportunity to play with Ivanovic.
On his experience, he said, “I was actually pretty nervous because they are both great players and it is a once-in-a-lifetime chance that you can play them. So I just wanted to do my best.”
However, at the end of his dream tennis session – lasting a few minutes, Liang thought that he had embarrassed himself in front of Ivanovic!
Said Liang, “I don’t think I created an impression at all! I kind of enjoyed the short experience, but it was also pretty embarrassing.”
Answered burning questions from the students
At an Adidas tennis clinic, which had been held at the Raffles Institution tennis courts, Ivanovic and Halep, together with Caroline Wozniacki (ranked ninth in the world), were on hand to answer burning questions from the students. But Wozniaki left the school early, because she was not feeling well.
Later that afternoon, Halep also paid a surprise visit to the tennis team from Methodist Girls’ School for a short Question and Answer session as well.
Not surprisingly, the students were delighted beyond words and squealed happily when they realised that the No. 3 women’s tennis player in the world, was literally standing right in front of them.
Coping with the Singapore heat
During the two sessions with the students, the teenagers had asked the three tennis players a wide range of questions, including how they deal with Singapore’s heat, pre-match mantras and routines and their most memorable tennis games.
On dealing with the hot weather, the three players agreed that they coped with it by using a bag of ice and water and pouring this over themselves to cool their bodies down.
Halep’s lucky bracelet charm
Halep even showed the students the red bracelet that she always wears as a lucky charm as she believes that this helps her to do well during her matches.
When subsequently asked whether she’s afraid of losing this bracelet, Halep quipped, “Actually, I have 10 of these, so I definitely won’t lose it!” The students responded to this with squeals of laughter!
Hoping to win the upcoming WTA Finals
However, playing tennis professionally isn’t all about fun and entertaining fans. While they may appear to be very relaxed and chirpy whilst chatting to the students, the three female tennis players are all hoping to win the upcoming WTA Finals, in Singapore, held from this Monday until next Sunday.
Said Ivanovic, “All of us are aiming to be in this tournament for the long haul. It is all about trying to play your best tennis and seeing how you go from there. I think everyone wants to win the tournament. But only the best player of the week will win. So let’s take it from there.”
Added Wozniacki, “It has been a great year for me and I am excited to be a part of the first Singapore WTA Finals. We are all here to do our best. My personal target is to qualify from our group and get into the semi-finals and eventually, the final. That would be amazing.”
Tips for aspiring professional tennis players
What tips do the tennis stars have then, for young players who are thinking of going professional one day?
Said Wozniacki, “I think that the young players should follow their dreams. It has to be something that they love to do. Nothing in life is easy but I want to suggest that any kid who dreams that they can achieve it, should go ahead.”
However, dreaming about success is not going to lead you there. Hard work, dedication and commitment to the cause, is also just as important. Explained Ivanovic, “I keep on working hard to get to where I am today. If you work hard, then results will come with it too.”