Tennis player Angeline, 19, braced for SEA Games debut
She's been out of school since 2009 and is set to make her bow at the SEA Games
Angeline Devi Devanthiran is used to hearing the word "late".
While most of her teammates on the national tennis team picked up the sport at the age of five or six, she started "late" - at 12 years of age.
What followed was an intense period of tennis, both in terms of training and playing abroad in countries like the United States.
While most 19-year-old Singaporeans would have completed their GCE O Levels, Angeline will sit for her exams over two years as a private candidate starting this October.
She has deferred her studies to pursue her tennis dream, and in a couple of weeks' time, the teenager will be part of a four-woman team that will represent the Republic at the 28th South-east Asia (SEA) Games on home soil.
Speaking to The New Paper after a training session at Kallang Tennis Centre yesterday, Angeline said: "Proving everyone wrong feels good. And I hope my career won't end anytime soon.
"Hopefully, I can attract a financial sponsor now and take the financial burden off my parents."
The teenager left school in 2009 to concentrate on tennis with the blessing of her parents, but there were many other detractors.
Last month, though, she made her debut for Singapore in a Federation Cup play-off - the Republic fell to the much-fancied Philippines 3-0, with Angeline going down in both her singles and doubles matches.
Angeline, who started studying for her O Levels only this year, knows the Singapore team will be entering the SEA Games as underdogs, but is counting on home support to give them a boost.
The tennis competition at the SEA Games will be held at the Kallang Tennis Centre from June 6-14.
Listing powerhouses Thailand, Philippines and Indonesia as the main contenders in both the individual and team events, she said: "Our opponents may have more experience and exposure, but we will have the home crowd backing us.
"Their support will be a great morale booster for us."
Angeline's biggest supporters will be her father Devanthiran Kuppusamy and mother Karin, who have been by her side at every step of her tennis journey.
Said dad: "Her teachers initially had been against her dropping out of school to pursue tennis, because they said the sport had no future in Singapore.
"But Angeline convinced us she could make it, and she has so much passion for the sport, so what's a father to do!"
Wife Karin added: "We're almost there, so we're going to push on and finish this journey."
Their daughter has no intention of stopping after the SEA Games.
Angeline, who admires women's world No. 1 Serena Williams and five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova for their ability to remain dominant in the professional tennis scene, hopes to one day break into the top 100 of the Women's Tennis Association.
"It's my dream to be in the top 100," she said. "I think I've set a reachable target... I believe I can get to the top 100."