SINGAPORE - Alexandra Stewart joined the Singapore Sports School's netball team last year but, after a while, life became lonely for the youngster.
She was the only one in the squad who was in the Normal (Academic) stream.
Thus, the 14-year-old decided to do something about it.
Alexandra worked harder in her studies and achieved a 70 per cent average in all her modules in Secondary 1 - good enough for her to join her teammates in the Express stream this year.
But netball didn't take a back seat. Far from it.
Training twice daily, five days a week, Alexandra blossomed on the court.
She won the school's Rising Star Award for netball last year, an accolade which marks a student's outstanding performances in both sports and studies.
"The Sports School's programme helps me to balance things out," Alexandra told The New Paper.
"We have allocated time for homework and regular training sessions.
"I do feel, sometimes, that netball takes up a lot of my energy and time, but I always find a way to regain my passion for it."
She became team captain this year and led her school to the National Schools' C Division final in April.
The Sports School lost the match to CHIJ (Toa Payoh) by two agonising points, but the final remains Alexandra's best sporting moment and it leaves her craving for more.
The 1.72-metre tall goal shooter, who was her team's top scorer during the schools' national tournament, has been a member of the national Under-14 team for the past two years.
"I'm determined to go as far as I can in netball. I don't want to stop if I keep improving," said Alexandra, who picked up the sport at age nine.
The teenager is grateful to her father, Oliver, for encouraging her to pick netball, an idea she initially resisted.
She said: "When I was in Primary 3, I didn't want to play any sport. I wanted to play the violin.
"My dad told me to give netball a try, and I cried and protested because I was afraid.
"I still have not picked up a violin, but I definitely have no regrets."
Her Sports School coach, Donna Blazey, feels that Alexandra has all the attributes to be a star.
She said: "Alexandra doesn't just have the height, but the skill and determination, too.
"She goes the extra mile to perfect herself, because she feels she has to as a goal shooter.
"What is special about her is how she gets her teammates to improve as well. In training, she's always telling her peers to try this or that.
"It's a special thing for a young girl to have such maturity."
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This article was first published on August 21, 2014.
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