Martina Hingis, Global Ambassador of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, recently kicked off the China Open by sharing pointers on groundstrokes and serves, as well as encouraging young players to take an active role in learning about the history of tennis - something that has been a great inspiration for her throughout her career. Hingis' advice to aspiring juniors was delivered at a special junior tennis clinic that she hosted at the China Open on behalf of the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
The event featured approximately 25 elite junior players from China who had the unique opportunity of playing on the China Open courts just before the tournament got underway, and learning from one of the sport’s most successful athletes, 22-time Grand Slam champion Hingis. Eight of the junior players were from Beijing Elite School of Tennis by RTG, with the remainder coming from other top tennis programs in the region. The students from Beijing Elite School of Tennis by RTG are currently enrolled in a special program featuring half-day academy study and half-day tennis training. The students are aspiring to eventually come to the US for fuhtter study by taking advantage of advanced tennis skills.
"Tennis has definitely come to China," noted Hingis. "You can see the improvement over the past 10, 15 years, many more academies, and more top players. How many more will come out of this country? The kids today, you see how much better they are. The infrastructure of the country, there are so many opportunities and possibilities."
She continued, "I played in Guangzhou, I played in Wuhan last week, now Beijing, then Tianjin. The opportunity this country opens up is for the kids is amazing. I always say, I wish we had one of these stadiums in Switzerland. But here they're like mushrooms popping up everywhere. Hopefully this will help, having the right infrastructure, the coaches, the possibilities will happen to have many more like Li Na and Shuai Peng, many more players like that in the future," she continued.
During the event, the young athletes spent time on court with Hingis working on their forehands, backhands, and volleys, with Hingis offering advice to the young players and hitting with them. In addition, she spoke to them about International Tennis Hall of Fame and the organization’s work to preserve and promote the history of tennis.
"Tennis history, it's always been very important to me. My mom always encouraged me to learn about Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert, Billie Jean King, who invented the WTA Tour, she started the tour, all of that history," said Hingis. "You have to go and check out the Hall of Fame. Definitely if you're in America, it's a beautiful place to visit and a great place to learn about our tennis history."
The junior clinic was a collaborative effort of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, the China Open, the Chinese Tennis Association, and Martina Hingis. The young players in the clinic were gathered by the coaches at Star River Professional Tennis Club, which is the first professional tennis club in mainland China.
Hingis was in Beijing to compete in the China Open, where she won the tournament doubles title last year. While Hingis is currently enjoying a return to the tour with great success in doubles, she has already had a lengthy and successful tennis career as one of the dominant players in the sport in the late 1990s. During that phase of her tennis career, she was the world’s No. 1 player in singles and doubles and the winner of 15 Grand Slam tournament titles in singles, doubles, and mixed. In recognition of her tremendous success in the sport, in 2013, Hingis was honored with the highest honor in the sport of tennis—induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. She returned to the WTA Tour later that year as a doubles player. In 2015, she was named as the first Global Ambassador for the International Tennis Hall of Fame, and in that role she plays an active part in the Hall of Fame's efforts to preserve and promote the history of tennis, and to educate and engage the global tennis community.
"I am very proud to have been chosen by the International Tennis Hall of Fame to be their Global Ambassador. When it happened, I was already an inductee of the class of 2013. That was one of my favorite and most memorable moments of my career. It represents not only one victory or only one match, it's my entire career," said Hingis.