Dubai Duty Free Tennis: How a 13-year-old music prodigy fell in love with tennis

Audrey is rooting for rising Filipino Canadian star Leylah Fernandez in Dubai

by

Leslie Wilson Jr

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Audrey with her mother Joy Maralit at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. — Supplied photo
Audrey with her mother Joy Maralit at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. — Supplied photo

Published: Tue 21 Feb 2023, 5:42 PM

Last updated: Tue 21 Feb 2023, 10:56 PM

Audrey never imagined that she would fall in love with a sport at first sight. That was before she attended the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships with her Mum, more out of a need to fuel her childlike curiosity.

But barely had she laid eyes on the bright blue and green tennis courts at the Dubai Tennis Stadium for the first time ever, where she watched some of the world’s best tennis players in action, Audrey was hooked.

“It was a great experience,” said the 13-year-old Dubai resident. “I did not know that tennis could be so much fun. And I got to like it even more once I learned how the game was scored.

“In the beginning, it was difficult to understand how a score went from 30-love to 30-40, but with the help of my Mum (Joy Maralit) it started to make sense.”

Audrey is a precocious musical talent and an accomplished self-taught pianist. Sport was never really her thing. But all that could change after watching rising Filipino Canadian star Leylah Fernandez in action on a packed Centre Court.

A Filipino herself, Audrey soon found herself joining the hundreds of fellow fans from the land of 7,000 islands, cheering her on to victory over Julia Grabher.

“It was very exciting and I felt very proud to see Leylah, who is half Filipino, winning,” she said. “That was my highlight of the day.

“She is very inspiring for all Filipinos in Dubai and around the world. To have a sports personality from my country doing so well is very special.”

Now that she has had her first taste of tennis will she consider playing the game herself?

“Maybe, but I’m not sure though. It’s kinda difficult,” said Audrey who admitted that for the moment she will continue to develop her skills by mastering the black and white keys on her piano.


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