Story by Mai A Malek/Red Sports. Photos by Thomas Tan/Red Sports
Singapore’s Stephanie Tan executes a double-handed back hand. (Photo 1 © Thomas Tan/Red Sports)
Kallang Tennis Centre, Sunday, August 15, 2010 — Stefanie Tan, 18, exited the first round of the Youth Olympic Games tennis tournament after she went down 2-6, 3-6 to 16-year-old Daria Gavrilova of Russia.
Clad in a white top and a hot pink skirt, the Russian blonde took a 5-0 lead before Stefanie picked up her pace and secured a game. The Singaporean wowed the crowd by securing another point, but could not stop her Russian opponent from winning the first set 6-2.
The intense competition got the girls a little frustrated as they moved into their second set. Gavrilova was spotted grabbing her towel with angst from one of the match officials, while Stefanie kicked the ball furiously when she failed to return a ball.
The fourth game of the second set saw a slower pace with the girls battling in the hardcourt for a whole 25 minutes before Gavrilova claimed the game to lead 3-1.
The match picked up in the fifth game with the Russian cruising along, whilst Stefanie, drenched with perspiration in her pink dress, struggled to keep up and missed several returns.
Not wanting to admit defeat, the Raffles Institution player delivered a good start in the eighth game and cruised through to 40-0 before wrapping her third game to reduce the deficit to 3-5. However, the Russian proved to strong and Stefanie fell 3-6.
“The Russian definitely played well. I must say that I am a little disappointed but that won’t stop me from competing further,” said Stefanie, who hopes to play in the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) series. She also added that this Youth Olympics gave her a whole new experience as it was a challenge playing in front of a large crowd.
Spotted in a group of Stefanie’s fans who came to greet her after the match were her uncle Mr Alan Tan and her aunt Sherry who thought she played really well considering that she was up against a strong competitor ranked 16th in the International Tennis Federation (ITF) junior rankings. Also spotted in the group were friends of Stefanie, who greeted her with hugs and smiles, with some even asking for her autograph.
“She fought hard,” said Abdul Hakim, a 19-year-old who also plays for the Singapore Tennis team. “It wasn’t an easy game but she did superbly.”
For Singapore fixtures and results, go to our 2010 YOG fixtures page
Showing some Singaporean love — A fairly large number of supporters showed up to give that extra morale booster. (Photo 2 © Thomas Tan/Red Sports)
Stephanie saves a ball with a double-handed backhand. (Photo 3 © Thomas Tan/Red Sports)
Daria about to deliver a hard-hitting double-handed forehand. She used her larger physique and greater professional experience to great advantage throughout the match. (Photo 4 © Thomas Tan/Red Sports)
Another double-handed forehand by Stephanie, who struggled early in the match. (Photo 5 © Thomas Tan/Red Sports)
Stephanie just manages to keep the ball in game. The second set saw some pretty intense duels between the girls, with game-wins determined only by a point’s difference on several occasions. (Photo 6 © Thomas Tan/Red Sports)
Daria is forced up into the service court and hits back with a low forehand. (Photo 7 © Thomas Tan/Red Sports)
Stephanie catches her breath with a minor celebration after much battling for a point. (Photo 8 © Thomas Tan/Red Sports)
While Daria clearly maintained an upper hand throughout the match she did commit several careless mistakes, giving Stephanie much-needed points. (Photo 9 © Thomas Tan/Red Sports)
The pressure takes its toll. Stephanie takes a moment to recover from losing a point after a long rally. (Photo 10 © Thomas Tan/Red Sports)