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NAKLO, THANDI VICTORIOUS IN WTA FUTURE STARS FINALS

Center court hosted what could be the next generation of Rising Stars as the Under-14 and Under-16 Future Stars champions were decided.

From all across Asia-Pacific, a group of young Under-14 and Under-16 girls conducted their own Junior Road to Singapore tournament in the week leading up the big senior event.

And when the finalists from each nation arrived, they competed to see who would earn the privilege of taking center stage at the Singapore Indoor Sports Stadium on Monday.

U-14 finalists Yuki Ando of Japan and Thasaporn Naklo of Thailand joined U-16 finalists Karman Kaur Thandi of India and Huan Hsiang-Wen of Chinese Taipei under the glare of center court.

With a full-on lights show, introductions and music, these youngsters received the full monty professional experience. And they played like it as well.

In the opening match, Naklo overcame a first set loss to defeat Ando, 5-7, 6-3, 10-4. In a rapid-fire post-match interview, she tested the interrogation skills of emcee Andrew Krasny by answering all three of his questions with a terse: "Yes."

Naklo was economical in her play as well, going 6-0 to top the Pink Group. She dropped one set during the entire tournament against India's Mahak Jain (6-1, 3-6, 11-9). Ando, her opponent, took Purple Group honors with a 4-1 record, with her only loss coming in a tie-break to China's Zhouma Ni Ma.

In the Under-16 final, Thandi brushed off some early nerves and dispatched Hsiang-Wen, 6-4, 6-2.

The Dehli, India, native swept through the Purple Group and didn't drop a set in the process. Overall, the tall, lanky Thandi is 24-9 this year.

"It was very nice playing on this court," Thandi said. "It was a good experience here."

Hsiang-Wen dominated every player in Purple Group with the exception of Thandi, who beat her twice - once in the round robin and again in the final.

The four competitors received lovely plates for reaching the final and appeared in a special on-court ceremony with WTA legend Li Na.




 

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