Tennis: This year's WTA Finals set to wow fans

Tennis: This year's WTA Finals set to wow fans
FANFARE: Maria Sharapova obliging autograph hunters at last year’s WTA FInals at the Sports Hub.
PHOTO: The New Paper

The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) is truly committed to building a legacy here in Singapore.

We established an office in Singapore in December 2013, which was a first in a host city, and also extended the WTA Finals' term from the standard three years to five years.

Since then, we have been building the foundation to grow the sport throughout the Asia-Pacific region from our hub here.

Working closely with our promoter World Sport Group and our government partners Sport Singapore and Singapore Tourism Board, the "Advantage Singapore" programme highlights the commitment to providing opportunities for Singaporeans.

This includes workshops at selected primary schools to reveal the science and technology in the world of professional tennis, and training programmes to equip a new generation of tennis professionals with skills both on and off the court.

Some of the examples include the WTA Finals Force volunteer programmes, WTA Future Stars kids tennis clinics, and the WTA Fellowship programme, which offers selected candidates the opportunity to work at the WTA global headquarters in Florida.

The WTA is always looking to raise the bar.

Even though last year's BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global was record-breaking, this year's tournament promises to be bigger and better.

TWO WEEKENDS

This year's event will showcase eight days of competition, expanded from seven days in the past, so fans can enjoy two full weekends of tennis action.

The goal is to engage even more people and exceed the record-breaking 129,000 fans who attended last year's WTA Finals at the Singapore Sports Hub.

The WTA aspires "to be the most exciting and inspirational sport entertainment experience on earth".

To enhance fan experience, the WTA is focused on bringing the game and the players closer to fans.

The Fan Festival will be held at OCBC Square, where there will be opportunities to see the world's top women players up close and personal, with player appearances and autograph sessions throughout the 10-day sport entertainment spectacle.

At the OCBC Arena, the WTA Rising Stars Invitational matches are open to the public to watch for free.

In addition, the WTA Future Stars matches, featuring the top junior players in the Asia-Pacific region, will be held at the Kallang Tennis Centre.

The WTA Future Stars final match will be held at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Oct 26 and it will also be free to the public.

Fans can also watch the WTA Finals heroines in action during their practice sessions, also free of charge on Fan Festival weekend.

This exclusive behind-the-scenes access, and witnessing their regimes and preparation for matches, is an experience money can't buy.

FOR KEEPS

During the matches, fans will also be able to get their hands on autographed balls which the players will be hitting into the crowd. If they are lucky, they may even get to catch and keep stray balls that end up in their direction.

The in-stadium experience promises to be more engaging than ever for fans.

The "Road to Singapore" is shaping up to be an exciting race as the leaderboard changes from week to week.

At the heart of the WTA Finals is, of course, the on-court tennis action, the passion and authenticity of our athletes, as the best of the best chase the highly coveted Billie Jean King trophy.

Right now, we are very excited that defending champion Serena Williams is coming back, hoping to win her fourth WTA Finals title after being the first to qualify.

Swiss legend Martina Hingis and her doubles partner, India's regional heroine Sania Mirza, have also quailified for the doubles event.

On the leaderboard right now are some familiar names including current world No. 2 Maria Sharapova and last year's WTA Finals runner-up Simona Halep.

It is fantastic to see some new names such as Wimbledon finalist and 21-year-old Spaniard Garbine Muguruza and 28-year-old French Open finalist Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic, climb up the ranks.

Over the next 85 days, the players will be competing throughout the US including the US Open, followed by the Asian series of tournaments, so it will be thrilling to see who finally makes her way to play at the WTA Finals here from Oct 23 to Nov 1.

npsports@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on July 31, 2015.
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