In our latest edition of #featuredplayer series, we check out Tan Jia Wei! πŸ˜‰ Jia Wei has played tennis competitively in during his school days and captained the elite Raffles Junior College tennis team. Now let's find out about this tennis star.

How did you get started in tennis?

It all began at a kind of sports trial which all primary three pupils had to go through in order to select their sports CCA of choice, that is if they were interested in sports to begin with. I tried out the badminton, table tennis, squash sports. In fact, I tried every racket sport as I was naturally fond of racket games. I picked tennis though because it was something I never tried before, not to mention that it felt really fun. It was a choice I can say I never regretted making.

What makes tennis your favourite sport?

I like how tennis is a sport of balanced proportions in almost all its aspects. I like the physical rigour, which is not as mild as something say golf, nor too intense such as something like squash or badminton. I also like how the game is mainly played outdoors. I like being exposed to the natural elements, as it just is something that makes playing the sport so much more interesting, and I don't know why!

What were your toughest matches in your career?

I will say that the toughest match I endured was the U14 Singapore national age group championship final against a Frenchman by the name of Arman. It was a really tough match as he had really powerful strokes, and I had to struggle with my defenses throughout most of the match. I was thus glad that edged over him 6-4 6-4. Do not be fooled by my winning in straight sets, the momentum went back and forth throughout the match it was so uncertain during the game play. Another notable challenging match of mine was one against Bryan Seah, also during one of the Singapore Spex national age group tournaments, whom I edged over in three sets. We both won one set each very easily, with Bryan taking the later of the two. As such, there was a fear that the momentum was with him in the third, which in fact was most likely the case, as I remember the last set being a very tough closely fought-out one.

Who is your favourite tennis player?

If I have to pick someone within the Top 10 it will be Roger Federer. His grace, the way he carries himself on and off the court, is magnificent and unlike James Bond's, very real as opposed to manufactured. On the whole though, I will pick Gilles Simon. We share the same playing style - we are both counter-punchers who wait for the perfect opportunity before attacking, or going on the offensive.

What did you like about captaining the RJC tennis team and what was/were your favourite moment(s)?

I liked the honour of representing an elite team of elite players, and the recognition and respect given to me by my fellow teammates and our coaches. I have to say my favourite moment was our winning of the inter-school championships in 2013, which although was done under my time of captainship, was mainly brought about by the skills and character of each and every teammate.

What would you consider your greatest achievements in tennis?

If I were to answer such a question, I will say that my greatest achievements in tennis were the winning of the U-14 age group boys singles championships in the Singapore Spex tournament, winning the U-16 age group boys doubles championships at such tournament twice, being awarded the Eagles Award (awarded by the leader of my GRC Christopher De Souza, thank you sir) and the Colours Award.

How did reach those achievements?

Everything good comes with quite alot of sacrifice. What brought me to where I was then was hardwork and passion. You need the hardwork, but hardwork is hardly sustainable without the passion I felt I had for the game. I trained multiple times a week from the very moment when I started playing full-court tennis at primary five. Such hardwork paid off when I got into the Catholic High school team despite playing the sport in its proper version for less than two years. I was fortunate to have performed well in the subsequent national tournaments, and thus to be selected into the national team training program. However, this also brought some pain as I had to train five days per week (all after school). Such exhaustion was made worse by my needing to train for an hour or so three times a week before school starts, thanks to Catholic High's sport class program. But paid off those hard efforts did, so there were no regrets!

What do u do in your free time?

I like sports in general, especially soccer, which I play at least once a week. I enjoy going to the movies too, and like other normal people my age enjoy hanging out with my family and best mates. Also, partying occasionally is an essential!

What have you learnt from playing tennis?

The first thing that came off the top of my mind was the learning of perseverance. The going will get tough in anything at life, but in moments as such you will have to dig in mentally and make yourself just do it. This is something that has been embedded in me by my coach Shaun. I used to be a very lazy tennis player, and hate to run after balls. Coach Shaun would however punish me whenever he sees me do so - for example the doing of pushups. Ever since then I have run for every ball. Tennis has also taught to stay focused whenever such attention is needed. Tennis is a mentally draining sport, and your eyes will need to be on the ball constantly in order to function, not to mention perform. This is extremely applicable to all other aspects of life. Lastly, but not least, tennis has taught me to be a grateful person. On my tennis journey I was very fortunate to have met amazing coaches and amazing friends with whom I can always practise with while having fun at the same time. They have all contributed to who I am, as both a tennis player and a person, and the passion which has sustained my ability to gain the achievements, and enjoy the game.

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