DEFEAT and disappointment from two years ago was banished yesterday when Tessa Wong earned the right to represent Singapore at the Longines Future Tennis Aces in Paris next month.
The 13-year-old was undefeated in the trials conducted by the Singapore Tennis Association (STA), edging out five other hopefuls.
She beat fellow 13-year-olds Tammy Tan, Lynelle Lim and Mary Claire Sia as well as Joelle Goh, 12, and Clare Cheng, 11.
The letdown from missing out on the same opportunity in 2012 helped prepare her better this time round, said the Raffles Girls School Secondary 1 student.
"(Back) then, the other players taking part were older, stronger and better than me," she said after her win yesterday at the Kallang Tennis Centre.
"I was disappointed but it gave me exposure and I'm glad that my hard work and training have paid off now."
The Under-13 clay-court tournament, now into its sixth edition, is organised by Swiss watchmaker Longines and features players from 16 countries.
It runs alongside the May 25-June 8 French Open.
The winner will be awarded a scholarship worth US$2,000 (S$2,500) annually until age 16 and a chance to play with professionals.
Previous winners have taken on legends such as 22-time Major champion Steffi Graf.
Several of Singapore's past representatives, Angela Lim and Shaheed Alam, have gone on to train full-time.
Despite the fact that the Republic's players have yet to get past the opening round in previous years, Tessa remains unfazed.
Said the plucky teenager who trains six days a week and harbours a dream of one day playing on the professional WTA circuit: "The players from other countries might be stronger but I will push myself to my limits.
"I will intensify my training schedule, make sure I'm fit enough and that my mental attitude is correct. If you want to succeed, you'll just have to keep pushing yourself."
Said her father Jeffrey, who is in hospitality management: "The STA have played an important role in giving her a good foundation. She has passion and that's an important start. As parents, we have to see how we can best harness that passion."
This article was published on April 5 in The Straits Times.
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