There’s a lot of fitness and technique involved in playing tennis, but for local tennis star Claudia Ng Hei-ching, the biggest challenge is all the running she has to do.
“I can’t describe how much I dislike running. It’s the hardest part. But the sport involves a lot of running and I’ll just have to deal with it during one of the most exciting tournaments of my career,” said the 16-year-old student, who goes to Australian International School. Claudia has qualified as a wildcard for the 2016 Prudential Hong Kong Tennis Open, which will be held from October 8-16 at Victoria Park.
Since mid-August she’s been going through an intense training programme, practising three hours a day, which involves a lot of running.
“It will improve my footwork and stamina,” says Claudia. “I hope I can emulate the skills, tactics and footwork of my idol, Angelique Kerber from Germany, who is currently the world no 1 in women’s singles tennis. She is able to integrate her fast, intricate footwork into her baseline forehand and backhand. This makes her shots very powerful and accurate.”
Claudia told Young Post that she needs to improve her overall tennis skills, but she is especially focused on her gameplay right now.
“I have been thinking about how to set up my shots, take control of the baseline rallies and place shots with greater accuracy. I want to put the ball at my opponent’s backhand, leaving her wide open so I can finish with my forehand.”
She’s looking forward to the tournament, as she knows it will be a learning experience.
“It’s my first time [in a major WTA event] so I believe I can learn a lot from it, especially how to handle pressure and concentrate on playing every shot better,” Claudia says.
Her dream is to play against Kerber in the tournament, but it won’t be easy for a wildcard.
“What I really want is to win two matches in the qualifying round to move into the main draw and play top players like Kerber, Venus Williams and Caroline Wozniacki,” she says. “But the most important thing for me is I’ll get to enjoy the atmosphere and gain valuable experience. I used to be a spectator at the Victoria Park matches – I can’t believe I’ll be a part of the game this year.”
Claudia will play her first-round qualifier on Saturday. The tournament will offer free admission (first come, first serve) on October 10, and students will also have free admission on October 11.
Which fictional character would you choose as your teammate?
I would want Natsu Takasaki from the Japanese manga series, Baby Steps. She can run very fast and, with her physical strength, make every shot powerful. She would be a great help in the doubles match, because she can move very fast and cover the gaps if I go to either the right or left. She is also very optimistic and humorous and she’ll encourage me whenever I’m having a tough time.
What song title best describes you when you’re playing your sport?
Rachel Platten’s Fight Song. It reminds me that even though I’m just a small part of the world, I can make an impact. My favourite line is: “I might only have one match, but I can make an explosion,” which is very encouraging and powerful.
Who is your favourite athlete?
Former World No. 1 tennis player Billie Jean King, because she was an iconic women’s rights activist. She was the one who went against the assumption that women’s tennis was a sideshow and has been instrumental in making sure that women’s tennis is as well regarded as men’s tennis.
You can take the abilities of any animal during one competition. Which do you choose and why?
A cheetah. With its pace, I would be able to return every single shot in a match.
What foods would you never give up?
Any desserts. I love a sweet reward after a tough match!