SINGAPORE - He has been based outside Singapore the last seven years, but teenage tennis player Ethan Lye certainly enjoyed home-ground advantage as he won the third International Tennis Federation (ITF) junior title of his career at the Kallang Tennis Centre on Saturday (March 9).
The 17-year-old top seed beat China's third seed Wen Guanglin 6-0, 6-0 in the boys' singles final of the Singapore ITF Junior Championships, to add to his wins in Sydney (September 2017) and Hong Kong (January 2018).
"It was just one of those days where the ball (seemed) really big and I was feeling really good, and I was in the zone," he told The Sunday Times. "It didn't feel easy, or hard. I was just in the moment."
His family moved to Chiang Mai in 2012 so he could pursue both sport and studies.
In 2014, they relocated to Sydney, where he is on a partial scholarship to study at the McDonald College and train at the Voyager Tennis Academy, and where he is still based.
Despite being mostly abroad for so long, he was still able to count on home comforts. While most of the other 47 players in the main draw - from 11 countries like Japan, Egypt and the United States - were put up in a hotel, he stayed at his cousin's home at Sixth Avenue.
"Yeah it definitely helps, staying at my cousin's place, getting proper nutrition and support," he said. "It felt like home."
He could not stay for long, however, and flew out to Kuching for the Sarawak Chief Minister's Cup ITF Junior Tennis Championships, a Grade 1 ITF Junior tournament, just hours after his win.
And even though Ethan notes the Singapore event is a Grade 5 tournament, the lowest tier on the ITF junior circuit, he hopes his win will help him turn the corner after a difficult second half of 2018.
He suffered a stress reaction, a precursor to a stress fracture, of his shin which kept him off the court from August to October.
"I haven't been doing well after my injury so this win is meaningful," said the world's 420th-ranked junior. "This is a good starting point to build up my confidence.
"Tennis is just a game of confidence and (winning) runs, and I think this is it - the turning point."