Worth waiting one year for a far better prize

ST reader Justin Tan, 26, a teacher, taking a selfie at the Merlion Park during a treasure hunt. He is one of five winners who could meet world No. 1 Simona Halep tomorrow and hopes to bring a photo he took with her in 2014 to be autographed.
ST reader Justin Tan, 26, a teacher, taking a selfie at the Merlion Park during a treasure hunt. He is one of five winners who could meet world No. 1 Simona Halep tomorrow and hopes to bring a photo he took with her in 2014 to be autographed.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Justin Tan came agonisingly close to winning a pair of tickets to the BNP Paribas WTA Finals presented by SC Global last year in a scavenger hunt contest, only to see someone else get there just before him.

This year, however, he was well ahead of time and could be rewarded with something far better - a meeting tomorrow with world No. 1 Simona Halep.

The 26-year-old teacher was the first to complete a treasure hunt organised yesterday morning to give five readers a chance to win an exclusive meet-and-greet opportunity with Halep. The contest is run in partnership with the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) and Porsche.

The Romanian player will be at a private handover ceremony tomorrow, where she will be presented with a Porsche 911 GTS, for being the best player on the tour after the regular season's 57 tournaments and winning the Porsche Race to Singapore.

Tan said: "I was very close to getting it last year but I was happy for the eventual winners. Luckily, I've got another chance this year."

He has bought tickets to watch the WTA Finals, the prestigious season-ender featuring the year's top players, since Singapore started hosting it in 2014. That year, he even managed to snag a photo with Halep after one of her matches.

"I'll bring that photo with me and hopefully I'll be able to get her to autograph it. I think it'll be very special and hopefully will show her that I've been supporting her for a long time.

"For someone to go through the ups and downs like she did this year and emerge stronger than before, I think it's something we can all look up to."

Undergraduate Natalie Ow is also among those who could meet the world's top-ranked player tomorrow.

The petite 21-year-old, who is 1.51m and plays golf, said she admires the 1.68m Halep for her ability to hold her own against the taller and stronger players who form a majority of the professional tour.

"I can relate to her a lot and it's amazing how despite her size she still manages to beat players who are much taller. She's really powerful for someone who her size," she said.

Currently pursuing a degree in communications, Ow is due to write a story about an event that took place this week - and hopes to make her assignment about Halep.

She said: "I hope to be able to ask her how she feels about playing opponents who are stronger and taller than her."

Besides the meet-and-greet opportunity, each reader will also receive a WTA Finals jumbo ball and a pair of tickets to the Oct 22-29 event at the Singapore Sports Hub.

Other stars like reigning Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza, Venus Williams and Karolina Pliskova will also be competing at the US$7 million (S$9.5 million) tournament.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 19, 2017, with the headline 'Worth waiting one year for a far better prize'. Print Edition | Subscribe