SINGAPORE -- The fourth edition of the WTA Future Stars came to an exciting conclusion on Sunday, as the top young talent in the Asia-Pacific region exhibited their tennis skills on Centre Court at the Singapore Indoor Stadium prior to the start of the 2017 BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global.
48 players from 21 Asian and Pacific countries participated in the WTA Future Stars tournament over the last week, culminating in Sunday's championship matches in under-14 and under-16 divisions.
Priska Nugroho from Indonesia emerged the victor of the under-14 tournament with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Thailand's Primada Jattavapornvanit.
In the under-16 event, Australian Megan Smith needed a match tiebreak to claim the title, battling past Lee Ya-Hsin from Chinese-Taipei, 7-5, 1-6, 10-5.
“It has been an exciting week for me playing against the other future stars and it’s an honor to take home the trophy,” Smith said after her win. “I really love the experience here in Singapore and I learned a lot from the tennis legends and coaches. I hope that this gives me the platform to push further and represent my country."
Legendary former WTA Top 20 singles players Yayuk Basuki from Indonesia and Tamarine Tanasugarn from Thailand presented the trophies to the winners.
“It is truly impressive that these young women get to represent their respective countries and play at such a high level,” Tanasugarn effused. “I have seen great improvement in the quality of play amongst young players across Asia-Pacific and I believe that the WTA Future Stars platform has helped to inspire the players to raise their level of play in the region.”
Meanwhile, WTA icon and 18-time Grand Slam champion Martina Navratilova handed out the Li Na Inspiration Award to players who demonstrated a remarkable level of sportsmanship throughout the tournament.
The Li Na Inspiration Award recipients, who received awards from Tiffany & Co., were Kazakhstan’s Yelizaveta Karlova in the under-14 division, and New Zealand’s Elys Ventura from the under-16 draw.
“I feel very honored to receive the Li Na Inspiration Award from the WTA,” said Ventura. “All of us came here to compete and win, but what is more important are the friendships that I have made and the bond that I have built with my fellow Future Stars.”
“The WTA Future Stars is a program that does not only help young players to develop their skills but to help them understand what it really means to be a tennis player on and off the court,” said WTA Finals Legend Ambassador Alicia Molik, a former Top 10 player in singles and doubles on the WTA.
“There is always that feeling of fulfillment being able to share my experiences to the young ones,” continued Australia’s Molik, who conducted a tennis clinic for the participants during the event. “I hope that they continue to strive harder to reach their dreams, and that they treasure all the memories they all have shared during the tournament.”