Tennis: Ethan ditches US plan, gets Sydney scholarship

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Tennis: Ethan ditches US plan, gets Sydney scholarship
Ethan Lye, 13, had to put plans to train in the US on ice after his mother was not granted a long-term visa to stay with him.

THE plan for local tennis junior Ethan Lye remains the same - his family will uproot themselves a second time for the budding player to pursue a tennis scholarship.

The only difference is that he is headed for Australia instead of the United States, after his mother Vera could not secure a long-term visa to stay in the US with him while he trained at the Van der Meer Tennis Academy in South Carolina.

What was initially a setback has instead turned out to be another window of opportunity for the 13-year-old who had previously trained in Thailand.

He has secured a three-year partial scholarship at Sydney's Voyager Tennis Academy while the Singapore Sports Institute (SSI) has also stepped forward with financial support to the tune of $10,000 over a year to help fund training and competition costs.

The Lyes left last night for Sydney where Ethan will train at the Olympic Park for about 18 hours a week under coaches like Luke Bourgeois, a former professional who was a practice partner for two years with tennis great Roger Federer.

He will also study at the McDonald College under a tie-up that the school has with the tennis academy.

Said Ethan: "I was disappointed and upset that we couldn't go to the States because I've always dreamed about living there and playing tennis there.

"But I feel Sydney offers me a lot of things as well. They have a great programme (and) a great school to go with the academy."

The SSI will also provide Ethan with sports science and medical support while he is in Singapore.

Said its chief Bob Gambardella: "The SSI is aware of the immense potential that Ethan possesses as well as the level of commitment and sacrifices put in by him and his family for his tennis development over the years.

"Ethan has the ambition to turn professional in tennis and the next two years of his development will be absolutely vital to his chances of making it.

"This funding, which is through the Singapore Tennis Association, is meant to be a boost for him as he chases his goal of becoming a professional tennis player."

Added Vera: "This is a very positive move to show that the SSI are interested in long-term development of an athlete."

maychen@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on September 03, 2014.
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