10 November 2014

WTA Finals in Singapore - tip time!

It's been two weeks since I returned from Singapore, but with massive jet lag and a dead laptop (thankfully now resurrected) I'm very late in recapping my amazing 8 days attending the 2014 WTA Finals.

This was a bucket-list event for me, and having never been to Singapore I'm thrilled I was able to make it happen. Thanks to Tennis Panorama News for the chance to cover the event as media - see my posts here:


Day 1 - Williams and Halep victorious on Day 1 at the WTA Finals

Day 2 - Wozniacki wins thriller over Sharapova at WTA Finals
Day 3 - Halep hammers Williams at WTA Finals
Day 4 - WTA Finals race to the semifinals heats up; Halep first through
Day 5 - Semifinals set at WTA Finals while Serena Williams clinches year-end No. 1
Day 6 - Williams, Halep Set Up Rematch at WTA Finals 

Sadly I couldn't recap the final due to my dead laptop, but here's the site's recap:

Day 7 - Serena Williams Three-Peats at WTA Finals 

Given this is the first year the WTA Championships were held in Singapore, they certainly started with a bang. The crowds were great and the stadium mostly full every day, and they were treated with some great tennis drama over the week.


A few tips for attending:


1) Getting there

Public transportation via the MRT is so easy and pretty reasonably priced. There's a station right to the Singapore Sports Hub (aptly named Stadium) and the cars are clean and air-conditioned! Beware - if the tennis runs late, which it did one night, the MRT doesn't usually run past midnight. I had a taxi nightmare (don't even try to just queue for a taxi - you'll want to book one) that night and didn't get back to my accommodation until 2am. 

2) Food

I was lucky to have meals provided and it didn't seem that the stadium offerings were substantial, so it's great that the Kallang Wave Mall is located right next to the stadium so plenty of options for eating and drinking plus it's a great space to spend time in a/c to escape the heat!

3) Fanzone

Other than the unbearable humidity, spending time at the Fanzone was a great option. There were plenty of activities for kids, regular player autograph sessions, a cool Social Media Wall and tourney/player stats on display. Very well done.

4) Practice sessions

There's an indoor area with three tennis courts and for the most part that's where all practice sessions took place. A few times players did hit in the main stadium which were closed to the public but the practice area was always open (even free to the public the first few days). 


Viewing wasn't the easiest unless you sat up high due to high nets and tarps around the court but overall it was a great setup. Players usually posed for photos and signed autographs on their way out so fans clamored over as soon as they noticed someone new arriving or players packing up to go. The only downside is that you have to undergo a bag search on your way in but the line moves pretty fast. Security were inside and they prevented people from standing too close to the courts for pics, but viewing was plentiful with lots of seats. There was usually a pretty good crowd every time I was there and it was great to see so many excited fans as they rushed for autographs.

Now, Singapore itself! Clean, modern, and crazy crazy humid! Be prepared - I thought it sounded better than the autumn temperatures of the midwest but it was rough.  
As I was primarily in town for the tennis, I didn't see too much of this city, but here are my must dos:

1) Marina Bay Sands area

Most of the players stayed at the hotel, and WTA events (including All-Access Hour) were held here. This is clearly one of the most popular places to be in the whole city. My tips:

      a. Be sure to go into the The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands just to see the grandeur (you can even go on a gondola ride!)





     b. Catch "Wonder Full" Southeast Asia's largest light and water show which takes place just outside The Shoppes. This was a rather trippy show - lots of images shown on water shooting up from the river, all sorts of lights. It's very unique.




c) Walk over the Helix Bridge - great views of the waterfront area.




2) Chinatown

I love going to Chinatowns (having lived a few years in Beijing) and this one is great. A fun mix of cultures including Hindu and one of the coolest temples I've ever seen.  There's a huge street food area (which I didn't partake in), the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and the beautiful Sri Mariamman Temple to visit. 





  














3) Arab Street/Haji Lane

A friend of mine had recommended Haji Lane as a great place to shop and it's full of lots of unique shops and eateries. Nearby is Arab Street and the main reason I went - to see the Sultan Mosque:




4) EAT! EAT IT ALL!

     

So that's my Singapore experience in a nutshell - thinking of going to the 2015 WTA Finals and/or have other questions about Singapore? Ask away!

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