The magic of tennis
After drinking orange crush with a win as a seven-year-old, our columnist fell in love with a sport that teaches so many life lessons
The magic of tennis is… striking that ball right on the sweet spot and hearing that crisp sound.
It is seeing that forehand passing shot you've practised 10,000 times go exactly the way you planned.
It is reaching up and going for that overhead smash.
It is watching that Hawkeye replay showing your ball actually hit the line.
It is being down 6-2, 5-2 and turning it around to win the match.
It is playing a third-set tiebreaker and overcoming your nerves to win.
It is coming off the court drained after a three-hour battle knowing that you gave everything and left it all out there.
It is shaking your opponent's hand after a match, win or lose, and feeling that you cannot wait to do it all again tomorrow.
My idol Billie Jean King once said: "Tennis is a perfect combination of violent action taking place in an atmosphere of total tranquillity."
Finding that perfect combination among all the variables and emotion - that is what I love about tennis.
Tennis is a metaphor for life, even in its jargon - advantage, break, fault, love and service.
It teaches you how to deal with adversity, how to lose, how to win, how to set goals and stick to them, and it helps build self-esteem, confidence and focus.
I was seven when I played my first competitive match at the Orange Crush Junior Open in St John's Newfoundland, Canada.
I was so nervous that I was trembling, and even swallowing and breathing normally was a challenge.
I remember wanting to win so badly, and I think that desire and determination carried me through to victory that day. After the match I was given a can of ice cold Orange Crush from the sponsor, and I felt so proud.
My smile was bright orange that afternoon.
Winning the match gave me confidence and the feeling of accomplishment.
That was my first real experience of the benefits of tennis and I knew I wanted more - I was hooked.
This year's calendar is well underway with the red clay of Roland Garros not too far away.
This year's Australian Open will always stand out in my mind as one of the most euphoric tennis weekends I've ever experienced with the spotlight on four veterans of the sport who are all arguably living legends in their own right.
Watching Serena and Venus Williams battle it out at this stage of their careers, in the final of a Grand Slam, gave me flashbacks to over a decade (or two) ago when they were world No. 1 and No. 2, respectively.
The next day, the nail-biting five-set match between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal was such an incredible showcase of our sport, and of sportsmanship at its finest.
I have travelled around the world because of a sport that I am so passionate about.
My work is tennis and wherever I move, each time I start anew, tennis is always my connector as I will always meet people and make new friends through the sport.
Tennis is a global sport that transcends boundaries.
As tournament director of the event, the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global is particularly special to me.
Over the years, there have been many amazing matches but watching Agnieszka Radwanska and Dominika Cibulkova win their biggest titles of their careers here in Singapore in 2015 and 2016, respectively, was unforgettable.
To have been a part of an event where we witnessed these players fulfilling their dreams and lifting the most prestigious trophy in the WTA calendar is definitely something that I will forever hold very close to my heart.
Melissa Pine is the vice-president of WTA Asia-Pacific and the tournament director of the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global. She is also a former NCAA player at Washington State University and served as assistant coach of the team post-graduation. To find out more about the WTA Finals, visit www.wtafinals.com