SINGAPORE – The 2017 WTA Future Stars tournament has hit a new high, with 48 qualifiers representing 21 countries across the Asia-Pacific, all gathering in Singapore to play against each other from October 17 – 22.
Held in conjunction with the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, the WTA Future Stars program was developed to showcase the best of Asia-Pacific’s next Stars.
Since its inception in 2014, Singapore has welcomed more than 150 WTA Future Stars participants to compete against each other and alongside activities to breed friendship and encourage sportsmanship.
Participation has continued to grow year-on-year, with new countries signing up, and more players from the region continuing to build on the quality of the competition. Kazakhstan will be represented for the first time while Cambodia and Laos return after a one-year absence. Each country sends two representatives, one each in the U14 and U16 categories, with host city Singapore represented by nine participants this year.
“The WTA Future Stars initiative continues to engage with the budding tennis talent across Asia-Pacific,” said Donna Kelso, Tournament Director of the WTA Future Stars tournament. “During their time in Singapore, the young players get to interact with their peers from the region, building invaluable bonds that form the foundation of a support system as they continue to rise up the ranks in the coming years.
“Aside from the competition and the tips they pick up on court, we hope that the girls also learn about diversity in cultures, backgrounds and experiences from one another.”
This year, winners of the WTA Future Stars tournament will receive their trophies from WTA Legends Yayuk Basuki from Indonesia and Tamarine Tanasugarn from Thailand, who have been involved in the initiative since 2016. They will be joined this year by newly-appointed WTA Finals Legend Ambassador Lindsay Davenport, who will be in Singapore and meeting with the WTA Future Stars for the first time, through a Q&A session with the young girls.
Read more: WTA Future Stars hit the court in Thailand
In addition, WTA Legend Martina Navratilova will be presenting the Li Na Inspiration Award to two WTA Future Stars who embody the spirit of the game both on and off the court, as well as qualities that made Li Na well-loved with fans, players and sponsors throughout her career.
Tanasugarn, WTA Legend and former World No.19, who hosted a tennis clinic in Bangkok as part of the WTA Future Stars regional grassroots outreach, said: “The WTA Future Stars is an amazing initiative by the WTA to not just introduce the sport to more young children in the region, but also to encourage those who are already playing to continue on their journey. I am very pleased to be involved in the program again and I hope we can continue to see more great talent emerge from this region.”
The U14 and U16 round robin and semifinal matches will take place at the Kallang Tennis Centre from October 17 – 22. The finals will start at 11am on Sunday, October 22, at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, before the first WTA Finals Singles match. Admission to the WTA Future Stars finals matches is free.
This year, the WTA Future Stars will also be participating in the inaugural WTA Charities Community Day held on Saturday, October 21. In a clinic led by former British Fed Cup Captain Judy Murray, the WTA Future Stars will be joined by children from SportCares and the Tennis For Every Child program by SC Global, as well as members of the wheelchair tennis club in Singapore.
The WTA Future Stars tournament is organised by the WTA, in partnership with Sport Singapore and the Singapore Tennis Association, with the support of Peak, SAP and Wilson. Working closely with WTA stars, legends and experts, WTA Future Stars clinics and masterclasses have been conducted in India, China, Philippines, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Thailand, Indonesia, and of course Singapore, reaching out to hundreds of children in these communities and encouraging them to live a better life through the sport.
This article was first seen on www.wtatennis.com.