Growing up in an ulu HDB heartland, I was the elder daughter of a part-time car salesman cum taxi driver and a kindergarten teacher mother. So you could say the thoughts of stepping foot onto a tennis court or learning tennis never crossed my mind. Children from those days would ‘gobble up’ every other sport or game that came our way, at school and at play. Badminton? Check. Football? Check. Swimming? Check. Basketball and volleyball? Check check (and we used the same balls)!
According to Wikipedia, as a sport, the rules of modern tennis have changed little since the 1890s. And it is played by millions of recreational players worldwide. It is also highly regarded as a great spectator sport, namely due to the four Grand Slam tournaments, also known as the Majors. These include the Australian Open, which are played on hard courts, the French Open, played on the iconic red clay courts, Wimbledon played on the classic English grass courts and finally, the US Open which is also played on hard courts. As an Olympic sport, tennis has been part of the Summer Olympics since 1896 and of the Summer Paralympic programme since 1992.
Tennis For Every Child
But tennis in Singapore? Recounted Marc Chow, co-founder of Whipper Tennis Academy, Tueetor’s Premium Partner, “As a kid, I could remember being actively involved in one sport or another. But never tennis. Not many schools back then offered tennis due to the high cost of equipment and lack of infrastructure.”
It wasn’t until junior college that I was exposed to the concept of tennis courts. So badminton for example, grew to become a more practical and ubiquitous sport for most schools back then. Says Marc, “These days however, it’s the total opposite. With the advent of technology making tennis equipment more affordable, more accessible, even Singapore’s Tennis Association (STA) has an expanded budget to groom potential players by sending the promising candidates overseas for exposure and training.”
With the launch of “Tennis For Every Child” in 2014 by homegrown property developer SC Global, grassroots tennis in Singapore has certainly (no pun intended!) lobbed ahead. SC Global has partnered with the STA to make it possible for some 10,000 primary school students annually for 5 years, to access tennis as part of their school programme. This half-a-million Singapore dollar commitment along with many other strides made by both the private sector and STA in recent years have cemented the private sector’s interest in ensuring a lasting legacy for tennis in the local scene, long after the WTA Finals wraps up.
Now that Singapore’s been placed on the world map as one of the official destinations of one of the Big Four – with the introduction of the Women’s Tennis Association or WTA BNP Paribas Finals grand slam tournament which is a regular feature on international women’s tennis’ calendar – and with the introduction of the International Premier Tennis League (IPTA) with a leg in Singapore; all point to an ever-growing wave of the sport; comprising of die-hard fans and tennis aficionados, but it also spells good news for all those who have yet to get to learn tennis properly. And I have to confess, when I was finally introduced to tennis ‘properly’, I was hooked. “No other sport has quite captivated my interest like tennis has,” agrees Marc. He and his business partner Ernest explain why.
Love At First Play
Reports Ernest, “Unlike my peers who choose to enter the corporate world after attaining their Bachelor’s degrees, I chose to follow my heart and pursue my passion in tennis coaching instead. For me, tennis was love at first play.”
“When I was first introduced to it, I spent almost 8 hours in the court daily to improve my skill level and strove to learn all the different aspects of the game through watching professional tennis videos. Since then, I have also been able to play competitively and all these experiences helped to level up my skill level to allow me to have a deeper understanding of the game. All these allowed me to become the player and coach that I am today. And I’m still learning. I daresay however, it is the most fulfilling job I have ever had.”
Says Marc, “In tennis, there are just so many components to being a good tennis player. Many people who take up the sport think tennis is only about keeping you physically fit. But they are only half correct. What keeps me going to improve my own game, is well I believe there is no such thing as perfection in the game of tennis.”
“Let me explain; there will always be something you can improve – a shot you can hit with a better angle, harder or with more efficiency. I’m striving to constantly get better not just for myself but for my students who are under me as well, so at the end of the day, that feeling of seeing the satisfaction on my students’ faces when they’ve won their hard-earned point, or got a shot in, all because of my coaching, is something that truly, money can’t buy.” So how beneficial is tennis? Let us count the ways.
Tennis as an All-in-One Life Hack
Besides helping one to develop your aerobic fitness, anaerobic fitness, speed, flexibility, gross and fine motor controls and agility, tennis also helps with bone strength and conditioning one’s immune system, overall promoting health, fitness, resistance to disease as well as to help prevent osteoporosis in older players and help strengthen bones in younger ones.
According to Dr Jack L. Groppel, and his infographic “Why Play Tennis?”, it has been proven that people who participate in tennis at least 3 hours per week (at moderate vigorous intensity) cut their risk of death in half from any cause. And that tennis, especially competitive tennis, or tennis played during matchplay, burns more calories than aerobics, inline skating or even cycling; and these were based on studies carried out using caloric expenditures (of the afore-mentioned sports).
Groppel went on to state that tennis requires alertness and tactical thinking which helps generate new connections between nerves and the brain, and thus helps promote a lifetime of continuing development of the brain.
For Marc and Ernest, I believe their long-term view of tennis is enabling one to learn to take a step back, seeing the big picture and playing the long game. And having fun whilst at it. Just like their idol Roger Federer. Explains Marc, “At the age of 36, Roger Federer has attained something quite unbelievable for his age – 20 Grand Slam titles and holding the World Number 1 title for a record 308 weeks, when most other tennis players’ careers would have happily settled with just 1 win or retirement starts when they hit 30.
I think most of us are in awe because Roger Federer still constantly looks to improve his game, and doing amazing work on court and off to strive for the perfection which eludes all of us. Even with a plate full of achievements, landmark wins and a growing, young family, he still manages to find the time and drive to not only keep going, but to improve, without excuses. That to me is the penultimate quality of a great tennis player.”
So if you do not just want instruction but a relationship with a coach who would be watching you like a hawk, more so at any time than when you were a baby, Whipper’s Marc and Ernest would be happy to groom you so that you feel you’ve come away an all-round winner. Even when as a fledging much older (midlife) student, I know I have limits and certain failure in some match play. But when you’ve found your rhythm in a match, in a rally or volley, you’ll find tennis as endearing as life itself, wishing this rhythm you’ve found can be duplicated at work or in life, with the level of serenity that comes with it. For more information on Whipper’s tennis coaches and courses, click here https://tueetor.com/whippertennisacademy or http://singaporetenniscoach.com/ Written & compiled by Cecilia Leong.