SINGAPORE -- The fifth and final edition of the WTA Future Stars event, featuring top young talents from the Asia-Pacific region, came to a thrilling conclusion on Sunday. 48 players from 21 countries in the Asia-Pacific region participated in the event which aims to showcase the talent of the next generation of players.
The top under-14 and under-16 players displayed their skills throughout the week prior to the 2018 BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, with the champions being decided on Centre Court at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
Yang Ya-Yi emerged victorious in the under-14 event with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Mio Kozaki of Japan. Yang becomes the first player from Chinese Taipei to take home the title.
“It has been amazing to be part of this year’s WTA Future Stars event this past week. Being the first player from Chinese Taipei to be crowned champion here in Singapore is truly an honor,” Yang said after her win. “I’ve learned so much from the WTA Legends and coaches, and got to see some of the Top 8 players. The event has definitely inspired me to pursue my dream of becoming a professional player on the WTA tour.”
In the under-16 event, Japan’s Ayu Ishibashi battled past Annerly Poulus of Australia 7-5, 7-6(5) to emerge as the champion.
Asian WTA Legends Yayuk Basuki from Indonesia and Tamarine Tanasugarn from Thailand, both former Top 20 singles players, gave out the championship trophies.
They were also joined by three-time Grand Slam champion Jennifer Capriati, as she handed out the Li Na Inspiration Award to players who demonstrated high levels of sportsmanship throughout the tournament, both on and off the court.
The Li Na Inspiration Award recipients, who received their awards from Tiffany & Co., were Macie Carlos from the Philippines in the under-14 division and Malaysia’s Hannah Yip in the under-16 division.
“It’s a great privilege to be presented the Li Na Inspiration Award from the WTA,” said Yip. “Receiving the award from Jennifer Capriati was the icing on the cake for me after an amazing week in Singapore, and though everyone came here to compete, it was really important for me to forge new friendships with my fellow Future Stars,” said Yip after receiving her award.
“I was very impressed with the level of play we saw from the young girls today, and I believe that the WTA Future Stars is a great platform to inspire young players from the region to raise their game and push each other’s level of play to new heights. It is exciting to know that there is such talent emerging from this part of the world.” said Capriati.
“The WTA Future Stars program is a wonderful initiative to give young players a glimpse at what it’s like to be a professional tennis player in the WTA,” said Casey Dellacqua, WTA Finals doubles qualifier in 2017 and current coach of the Australian WTA Future Stars. “It really means a lot to these young players to be here and I’m incredibly excited to have been a part of this program this year as a coach. I hope that they use this experience to strive harder to achieve all their dreams and aspirations in the future.”
The WTA Future Stars platform was developed in partnership with Sport Singapore and the Singapore Tennis Association, with the support of Peak, SAP and Wilson, to showcase the best of Asia-Pacific’s next generation. It began with just 12 countries and 24 players in 2014, and five years later saw 48 WTA Future Stars representatives from 21 countries compete against each other and participate in activities to strengthen friendships and encourage sportsmanship.
Melissa Pine, Vice-President of WTA Asia-Pacific and Tournament Director of the WTA Finals said, “In conjunction with the WTA Finals over the last five years, the WTA Future Stars initiative has had an undeniable impact on the next generation of women’s tennis players in the Asia-Pacific region. The WTA Future Stars has also cemented its legacy in the region by introducing tennis to hundreds of children in Asia-Pacific through clinics, sharing the joy of the game and championing the belief that we can all live better lives through sport.”
Donna Kelso, Tournament Director of the WTA Future Stars said, “The WTA Future Stars program is such an important initiative for us to engage and support budding tennis players in Asia-Pacific, fanning the flame of their love for the sport. Since its inception, we’ve seen participation grow steadily and some great talent has emerged from the program. I’m truly honored to have been part of this journey with our junior players and I look forward to seeing them sharpen their skills, embrace their passion and accomplish greatness as they continue to pursue their dreams.”