Lynelle driven by will to succeed

Home-schooled Singapore teen prioritises sport over studies as she chases tennis dream

Lynelle Lim made the decision to be home-schooled when she was only 12.

The Singaporean did it, so that she could pursue her dream of becoming a professional tennis player one day.

When the WTA Future Stars starts at the Kallang Tennis Centre today, the 16-year-old will get the chance to test herself against some of the best players from her age group.

The WTA Future Stars features the best of the Under-14 and Under-16 junior players from the region. They will compete in Singapore from today to Sunday.

Lynelle said: "For me, tennis is my priority.

"My parents have been supportive enough to let me go after my dreams.

"They're not the typical Singaporean parents who only prioritise my education."

Lynelle, whose father is a businessman and mother a housewife, is home-schooled under the Laurel Springs programme.

The flexibility of her academic schedule allows her to fit in daily training sessions.

“They’re not the typical Singaporean parents who only prioritise my education.”Lynelle Lim, on being home-schooled so that she can train six hours a day under a tennis coach

She trains six hours every day with Bulgarian coach Boyan Hadjisotirov and Singapore's top tennis player, Stephanie Tan.

Her determination to succeed despite living in a third-world tennis nation speaks volumes of her passion for the sport.

"My dream is definitely to play in the Grand Slam," she said.

"I also want to hopefully make it to the top 100 in the women's circuit one day."

In contrast, Australian Megan Smith, currently the No. 1 seed in the U-16 category, comes from a culture where sports is regarded as part of the country's DNA.

Asked about her tennis ambitions, the 16-year-old said: "I'd like to play Australian Open Juniors, and then see where I can take it from there.

"Hopefully, we'll have a few juniors come through the ranks."

The WTA Future Stars, held in conjunction with the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, was developed as a platform to showcase the best of Asia-Pacific's next tennis stars.

Donna Kelso, tournament director of the WTA Future Stars tournament, told The New Paper: "The progress that we have seen through the years is incredible.

"We had 24 players when we started off three years ago, and this year, we've doubled the amount to 48 players from 21 countries."

Besides the tournament, there will also be educational components to the event, such as coaching clinics with former top players, and athlete development seminars to expose the young players to professional tennis.

Kelso said: "What we aim to do is provide them with a variety of on- and off-court activities to aid in their development,

"In the end, it's up to the individual players if they decide to turn pro or not."

The WTA Future Stars finals, which take place at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Sunday, will be the prelude to next week's WTA Finals.