The WTA Future Stars tournament is held yearly in conjunction with the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global. As part of the program, top U14 and U16 female tennis players from 21 countries around Asia-Pacific are provided valuable experiences and exclusive insight into the world of professional women’s tennis.
The Junior Race to Singapore has concluded in New Zealand, where Tina-Marie Li and Vivian Yang emerged as champions in the U14 and U16 qualifying events respectively. No strangers to representing New Zealand in international competitions, both girls will be gunning for the title during the WTA Future Stars event.
One of New Zealand’s top juniors, Tina -Marie Li has represented New Zealand on numerous occasions with the most notable being the International Tennis Federation’s (ITF) World Junior Tennis competition in both 2017 and 2018, playing against the best U14 players in the region. She is full of ambition and hopes to be in the Top 100 of the WTA rankings and win the French Open.
“My first encounter with tennis was quite random. My family and I were walking past a tennis club and my parents wanted me to try the sport, so they walked in and signed me up for lessons,” Li told the WTA Finals team. “I’m glad they did because now, I think I was born to play tennis. I’m naturally very competitive, and just love aggressive shots on court.”
When asked about her favourite player, Li picked Elise Mertens of Belgium.
Li tries to emulate Mertens’ aggressive style of play- hitting hard shots which are varied enough to move her opponents all over the court. Li also admires Mertens dropshots, considering it impeccable and possibly one of the best on the tour.
“She’s so close to qualifying this year, I hope she does well in the Asian Swing and makes the Top 8. I’d love to watch her play during the WTA Finals,” Li said.
“I’m so glad that I’ve gotten the chance to represent New Zealand, I promise that I’ll do my best!”
“The qualifiers were really fun, and it wasn’t just because I got to skip school to play the matches,” Vivian Yang cheekily told the WTA Finals team. “It’s a great warm up for the matches that we’ll play at the WTA Future Stars event.”
Like Li, Yang’s favourite player – Elina Svitolina is on track but has yet to qualify for the WTA Finals in Singapore. But Yang is hopeful that Svitolina will pull through and is excited to see her energetic and upbeat personality shine on court. Svitolina’s hard work and positive attitude is what inspires Yang to pursue her tennis dreams. Yang hopes that by the end of the year, she would have risen the ranks and reached the Top 100 in the ITF Junior rankings.
Yang enjoys tennis because it challenges her, both physically and mentally. She particularly enjoys the mental challenges, forcing her to constantly push herself and fight hard to achieve her ultimate goal- to be a professional tennis player. Yang believes that mental strength can be a game changer and knows that she still has plenty of room for improvement. She is going to use the event as an opportunity to stretch her mental strength, while looking for tips from her peers and the WTA Legends.
“These next few weeks till the WTA Future Stars event are critical, I’m going to be really busy training hard every day. I want to do well in the matches and play some good tennis,” said Yang.
The WTA Finals team wishes both Yang and Li the best in their preparation for the WTA Future Stars event in Singapore!
The WTA Future Stars event is held in conjunction with the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global. Catch the WTA Future Stars U14 and U16 Finals on 21 October before the opening ceremony of WTA Finals for free. Click here to get your tickets to the WTA Finals.