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Tennis: Matthias steps up in Paris

PARIS • National youth tennis player Matthias Wong has competed only twice on clay, but his lack of experience hardly showed at the Longines Academy in Paris yesterday.

The 12-year-old moved with the ease of a seasoned clay-court practitioner on the first day of the Longines Future Tennis Aces tournament to win a match at the annual event - a feat no Singaporean had achieved before.

This year's edition of the tournament, played in truncated sets, features round-robin matches before the elimination stage. Previous editions of the tournament were direct elimination.

Matthias kicked off his campaign with a 3-2 (5-4), 3-2 (5-1) win over Mexico's Luis Carlos Alvarez Valdez, but lost his next three matches to India's Udit Gogoi, Shisanuphong Pokinsagethasiri of Thailand and Poland's Martyn Pawelski.

He failed to advance but was happy with the improvements he had made to his game.

"When I played on clay last time, I couldn't even run properly," said Matthias, who spent two weeks training at the Mouratoglou Tennis Academy in Nice ahead of the June 1-3 tournament.

Matthias Wong kicks off his Longines Future Tennis Aces campaign with a win

"I expected to win one match, so I'm very happy but at the same time disappointed because I came so close to winning my third match."

The experience has also fuelled Matthias' determination to train harder to achieve his goal of turning professional.

Thailand is one of four new countries to feature in this year's tournament. The other three are Britain, Austria and Germany.

Juan-Carlos Capelli, Longines' vice-president and head of international marketing, welcomed the four new additions as a sign of the tournament's success.

"The tournament now has the same format as the ATP Masters in London, and now every boy can play at least two matches," he said.

"In the past, the one who loses after one match is already out of the competition. Now, every one of them gets a second chance."

Nicole Chia