Tennis: WTA Future Stars event in Singapore to expand from 12 to 18 countries

Thasaporn Naklo of Thailand was crowned the Future Stars Under-14 champion, overcoming Yuki Ando of Japan 5-7, 6-3, 10-4 to emerge the best in her age group in the Asia-Pacific at the Singapore Indoor Stadium centre court, on Oct 20, 2014. 
Thasaporn Naklo of Thailand was crowned the Future Stars Under-14 champion, overcoming Yuki Ando of Japan 5-7, 6-3, 10-4 to emerge the best in her age group in the Asia-Pacific at the Singapore Indoor Stadium centre court, on Oct 20, 2014. The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) is expanding its Future Stars tournament to 18 countries this year - up from the 12 in last year's inaugural edition. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) is expanding its Future Stars tournament to 18 countries this year - up from the 12 in last year's inaugural edition.

Held alongside the season-ending WTA Finals in Singapore, the tournament will feature the top girls in the Under-14 and Under-16 age categories from countries in the Asia-Pacific region to compete during the Finals.

Said Melissa Pine, tournament director of the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global: "The WTA Future Stars initiative had a phenomenal kick-off in 2014, with a fantastic turnout of young and talented girls throughout the region.

"This expansion across 18 countries in Asia-Pacific shows our commitment to give back to the community through tennis, and present the star of tomorrow on a global stage."

The 18 countries that will feature in this year's "Junior Road to Singapore" are Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Cambodia, Brunei, Myanmar, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam, Laos, China, Japan, India, Chinese Taipei and Hong Kong.

Each country will organise its own qualifying event between June and August to determine its representative.

Thailand's Thasaporn Naklo won the U-14 event last year, while India's Karman Kaur Thandi took the U-16 crown.

Said Karman: "It was an amazing experience as we got to share the stage with the world's top eight women tennis players."

This year's WTA Finals, to be held from Oct 19-26, will be the second year that Singapore is hosting the event.