Tennis: Stefanie Tan back in WTA rankings after victory in Baku

Stefanie Tan
Stefanie Tan

S'pore's top tennis player returns to WTA rankings after clinching two titles in a week

Singapore's No. 1 tennis player Stefanie Tan will return to the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) rankings again, once the latest list is released next Monday.

A fine run of results in Baku, Azerbaijan, where she won two titles in a week, has propelled her back into the rankings for the first time since 2011.

The 23-year-old's most significant achievement came last Sunday, when she won her first professional singles title in just her third tournament since returning to the International Tennis Federation (ITF) professional circuit.

The Singaporean qualifier trounced all her opponents, dropping just 13 games, or an average of just two per match, en route to winning the US$10,000 (S$13,500) Baku Cup Futures 2 event.

More silverware arrived yesterday on the hard courts of the Baku Tennis Academy, as she added a doubles trophy to her luggage.

Tan partnered Kazakhstan's Kamila Kerimbayeva to defeat Ukrainian pair Katya Malikova and Angelina Shakhraychuk 6-2, 6-3 in the doubles final at the US$10,000 Baku Cup Futures 3 event.

SECOND WIND

I see it as a fresh start. Previously when I was ranked, I was still young and immature, feeling that having a ranking is good but I didn't really know what to do.

STEFANIE TAN, on getting back into the WTA rankings.

Speaking to The Straits Times in a phone interview before flying home last night, a cheerful Tan said: "Thankfully I've got space in my luggage (for the trophies).

"It's such an encouragement and an affirmation for me. Nobody else knows this, but I have just made a comeback to the pro circuit. It's amazing to see what I have worked on in this year bear fruit.

"I see it as a fresh start. Previously when I was ranked, I was still young and immature, feeling that having a ranking is good but I didn't really know what to do.

"But now my goals are different and I have matured a lot as a player."

The years since she last held a ranking in 2011 saw her compete mostly outside the ITF circuit.

However, it did not mean that she achieved nothing in those years, as Tan improved her game while playing for Texas Christian University on the National Collegiate Athletic Association circuit in the United States from 2011 to last year.

She said: "I was playing matches almost every week and a lot of the girls whom I compete against are ranked (around) 300 or 400. So those regular games helped me to fine-tune and improve my game."

This year, the full-time tennis player has racked up a 13-4 win-loss record in singles, including three victories for the Republic in the Fed Cup Group II Asia/Oceania competition in April.

Her goal for now is not chalking up ranking points, nor looking at how far she can potentially rise in the rankings.

Instead, her target is set on next year's SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur, where she is hoping to win Singapore's first medal in the sport at the biennial meet since 1995.

Tan said: "The higher I rank, that means the better I will be."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 11, 2016, with the headline 'Tan's back among the best'. Print Edition | Subscribe