Tennis: ActiveSG tennis academy brings the sport to the masses

Children from the ActiveSG Tennis Academy attend the WTA Future Stars clinic at Heartbeat@Bedok ActiveSG Tennis Centre on Oct 7, 2017.
Children from the ActiveSG Tennis Academy attend the WTA Future Stars clinic at Heartbeat@Bedok ActiveSG Tennis Centre on Oct 7, 2017.PHOTO: COURTESY OF WTA

SINGAPORE - Tennis may not have the broad reach that team sports like football or basketball possess but that has not stopped the ActiveSG tennis academy from enjoying significant growth in the past 15 months.

Started in July last year with an initial group of 300 students at its first centre in Kallang, the academy has expanded to five centres island-wide with more than 2,700 participants. A sixth centre, at Our Tampines Hub, is expected.

ActiveSG chief Lai Chin Kwang told The Straits Times yesterday: "What we have done is to not just depend on engagement on the tennis court itself. We engage schools and bring the sport to the students such as through playing mini-tennis in the school hall so they get to experience the game and find out that it's quite fun."

He noted that the academy has linked up with three primary schools including Naval Base Primary, which last year signed up its entire Primary 4 cohort for a mini-tennis programme.

By growing the base of players, this will allow budding talent to be spotted at an early age and funnelled into the national set-up.

He said: "This is also one of our aspirations, to create more opportunities for such talent to surface, to spot boys or girls with the potential to play at the elite level as they spend more time with us."

Shaheed Alam, the first local male player to win an International Tennis Federation Junior singles title with his victory in Singapore in 2015, welcomed ActiveSG's broad-based approach.

"For sure it's a good platform to source for talent, for younger kids to come through the ranks," said the 19-year-old, who represented Singapore at the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games.

"Getting them started with mini-tennis is a very good idea. It's easier to have more rallies and for kids to enjoy the game. That's how I got started too."

The inaugural Singapore Tennis Festival, a month-long event launched by Sport Singapore in conjunction with the WTA Finals, was launched on Oct 1.

SportSG will also conduct experience tours - which include group workouts, mini-tennis games, coaching clinics - during the Oct 22-29 WTA Finals

For more information, visit www.tennisfest.sg.