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.
Singapore being the host country of the WTA Finals and WTA Future Stars events, were given three additional qualifier slots per age group, making it four U14 qualifiers to the WTA Future Stars event. In the U14 event, Claire Chan, Lim Ler Min, Michelle Yeo and Charlotte Yeo fought hard during the qualifying matches and earned their spots in this year’s WTA Future Stars event.
Claire Chan might only turn 14 years-old this year, but she is already having success against opponents who are years older than herself. This year, she has already clinched the runner-up placing in Singapore Tennis Association’s (STA) U16 competition and won the STA Intermediate competition, which is open to players of all ages. Not being content with being a runner-up, Chan’s goal for the year is to be the champion of the U16 tournament. In the near future, she hopes to be selected to represent Singapore in the South East Asian (SEA) games.
Chan’s favourite tennis player is Caroline Wozniacki, whom she admires for her speed, agility and footwork.
“I want to be as fast as her on the court! She can reach every ball and never gives up a point,” says Chan.
Chan acknowledges that the matches during the WTA Future Stars event will be tough as she will be pitted against the best from the region. She has started to prepare herself mentally and is ready to give it her all during all the matches.
“I can’t wait to meet and play against the best girls in the region. This is going to be great exposure and good match experience,” Chan told the WTA Finals team.
Lim Ler Min is no stranger to the event, having qualified for the 2017 edition of the WTA Future Stars event.
She told the WTA Finals team that since last year’s WTA Future Stars event, she has been conscientiously analyzing her game and working on areas that she found still lacking in comparison to her peers. Additionally, she has been trying to emulate her idol, Maria Sharapova’s hard serve and aggressive game.
When asked about her thoughts on the previous year’s event, Lim said that she found the experienced gained through match-play was invaluable. She also enjoyed the numerous social opportunities, such as the draw ceremony and the boat ride on the Singapore River and is looking to forward to similar activities this year.
“I’m excited to forge new friendships and create many memorable memories at the WTA Future Stars event!” Lim said.
Lim is immensely honoured to be given a second chance to represent Singapore in the WTA Future Stars event and promises that she is going to treasure this opportunity and try her best to do Singapore proud.
“I started playing tennis because my mom said that I was getting chubby and I needed to lose weight. She’s the only reason I got into this sport,” Michelle Yeo told the WTA Finals team with a cheeky grin across her face.
Now, with an Asian Tennis Federation Ranking of 103 and the current No.3 U14 player in Singapore, Yeo is a force to be reckoned with. She tells the WTA Finals team that one of her favourite things about tennis is the competitiveness of the sport. She learns her competitive spirit from her tennis idol- currently No.8 on the Porsche Race to Singapore, Karolina Pliskova, whom she thinks has an incredible competitive spirit and aggressive style of play.
Yeo is working towards clinching a coveted athletic scholarship to play collegiate tennis in the United States. Beyond that, she hopes that she will make a name for herself in the region as a tennis player, representing Singapore in international events such as the SEA Games
“I’d love to hear the stories of the Top 8 players and WTA Legends; the struggles they faced and how they overcame it, especially while transitioning from a junior to professional tennis player,” says Yeo.
At only 12 years-old, Charlotte Yeo is one of the youngest to qualify for the WTA Future Stars event. She tells the WTA Finals team that her journey to qualifying for the WTA Future Stars event was not an easy one. She had to play against opponents that were older, physically stronger and more experienced than herself. It was the opportunity to be part of the WTA Future Stars and gain invaluable experience that motivated her throughout the qualifiers.
When watching Yeo play, one would never guess that she had only picked up the sport a mere three years ago.
“I used to do ballet and golf, but I didn’t enjoy either of those activities. My brother said that tennis looked like a sport which required minimal effort, and so we tried it out together,” Yeo explained. “It turns out, tennis wasn’t easy to learn but was super fun anyway!”
Yeo’s picked 2016 WTA Finals Champion, Dominika Cibulkova as her favourite WTA player. Yeo says that while Cibulkova is shorter than most players on the tour, she makes up for her height with her explosive energy. Taking a leaf from Cibulkova, Yeo is conscious of her actions and always tries to display positive body language, while keeping herself focused for the upcoming points.
The WTA Finals team wish all four girls 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.