Simona lends a Haleping hand

Simona lends a Haleping hand
Simona Halep is a Romanian professional tennis player who is currently ranked world No. 3

She was already awestruck when she met Women's Tennis Association (WTA) stars Eugenie Bouchard, Simona Halep and rising star Shelby Rogers in a meet-and-greet session with Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong and United States Ambassador Kirk Wagar.

Little Nur Ernalillah Salleh (above, with Halep) got another surprise when she stepped onto the tennis courts at the Singapore Sports Hub's OCBC Arena yesterday afternoon.

World No. 3 Halep took the eight-year-old Mayflower Primary School student by hand and coached her on the finer points of the game.

"It was fun and exciting because I like tennis," said the shy pint-sized girl. "I was looking forward to today, and practised yesterday (to prepare myself)."

Erna, as she is known to her friends, was among around 20 participants from the SportCares Foundation's Love Singapore Tennis programme - there were about 40 participants in total - at yesterday's hour-long tennis clinic.

The tennis programme is the latest ongoing project under the foundation - the others are swimming, football, kayaking, dragonboating and running.

It was started in August, partly because of the imminent arrival of the WTA Finals, according to Laura Reid, Sport Singapore's deputy director overseeing SportCares.

She said: "The programme is specifically for girls aged eight to 18, and six of them have already started volunteering for the recent Singapore Swim Stars event at the OCBC Arena.

"Hopefully, through their introduction to sports in these programmes, some of the children may go on to become officials, coaches or even into events management, if not players."

This article was first published on October 17, 2014.
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