Hi Jaime! What were you like as a teenager?
As a kid, my nickname was … “Gangster”! I was a tomboy with a bad temper and spouted vulgarities all the time. In secondary school in particular, I was always breaking the rules and was in detention almost every week.
Describe yourself in three adjectives.
The first two would be ‘passionate’ and ‘wilful’. In the past, my wilfulness was all about me; today, my ‘wilfulness’ is for God. The last adjective is ‘focused’. Once I have set my mind on something and it’s what I want to do, everything gets poured out into that.
What is your earliest memory of yourself and tennis?
My love for tennis actually began with my dad. Despite not being trained in tennis, he loved the game so much that he would read books and watch matches to learn how to play the game himself. I ended up loving it too. Every day when I got home from school, the first thing I did was drop off my school bag and go to the void deck to play two hours of tennis against the wall. The wall was my best friend! I eventually moved to the US because I wanted to pursue a career as a professional tennis player.
And you eventually did go pro! What were some of your biggest achievements as a competitive tennis player?
In terms of accolades and awards, I have received many — becoming Singapore’s youngest National Women’s Champion at the age of 12, and being the youngest representative at the 1995 SEA Games at the age of 13. To date, I have the highest winning percentage on the Singapore Fed Cup Team. I received a full NCAA scholarship to attend university where I was awarded the Total Person Award — the student-athlete who best exemplified excellence in Academics, Athletics, Character, and Community Service.
At that time, I believed I could do anything that I set my mind to. Up until then, I had accomplished and excelled in everything that I had set out to achieve.
You no longer play competitively though. What changed?
Eight years of intensive daily training in the US took a toll on me, both physically and mentally. At the time of transition between university and work life, I met someone here in Singapore (while I was on holiday) and fell in love for the first time at the age of 21. The person was a female and a Christian. I pursued this person with the same burning passion as I had for tennis as a child.
In less than a year, I gave up everything in the US to come back to Singapore to pursue the relationship — only to be told by my friend one day, “I’m sorry. I love you, but I love God. I cannot walk down this path with you.” I was an atheist so I could not believe that this friend would choose a non-existent God over me, a real and tangible person. I became very hostile towards Christianity and was determined to prove that there was no such thing as God and the Bible was nothing but a book of lies.
ONE DAY, I WAS SO TIRED OF LIVING THAT I SAID, "GOD, I GIVE UP!"
However, after two years of research, I was compelled to accept Christianity, because I realised that scientific, historical, and empirical evidence points to the God of the Bible as the God of this world. Unlike what people say about how it takes ‘blind faith’ to believe in God, I eventually became a Christian because it made intellectual sense.
But I was heartbroken because practically for the first time in life, I failed to achieve what I set out to do. Thus began my passive-aggressive rebellion against God.
Seven years later in 2013, I reached an all-time low and was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder and Clinical Depression. I was suicidal and became reliant on long- term medication and sleeping pills. One day, I was so tired of living that I said, “God, I give up. I’m done with this life! I don’t want it. Take it! Do what you want with it.” For the first time, I surrendered my heart and my life to God; that became the defining moment for me.
As I surrendered to God, He began to repair my life. God led me through a miraculous journey of healing and deliverance. Since January 2014, I have been medication-free. I have also turned away from same-sex desires and a lifestyle of sin and immorality. All this could only happen because I experienced the pure and perfect embracing love of Jesus. When I first encountered His amazing love, I recall falling on my knees with hands lifted high, and as I cried tears of inexplicable joy, I said, “Thank you, Lord. I want to tell the whole world about You.”
Wow! So what do you do now?
Today, I am a Co-Founder and the Head Coach of Ignite Tennis Academy. In the past, I was driven to win matches, tournaments, awards, and trophies. But now, I am driven to win souls for His kingdom. I am filled with a passion to tell the world about the amazing love of Jesus. My desire is that Ignite will be a mission-focused place dedicated to sharing the truth about Jesus and the love of Jesus through our tennis programmes.
Do you have a word of encouragement for girls struggling with self-reliance?
When you are willing to completely empty your cup, then only can God fill your cup with Himself, the living water. As Pastor Edmund Chan once said, “The greatest incongruence in Christianity is wanting God but not surrendering to Him. Absolute surrender is the key to absolute victory!”