After helping Hong Kong win its first ever tennis medal, budding superstar Kevin Wong has no plans of slowing down.
“My goal is to help Hong Kong get a medal in the Asian Games in September, and to become a top 500 ranked player in the world within the next year,” Wong told Young Post.
Wong won the bronze medal in the men’s doubles with close friend and fellow Diocesan Boys’ School (DBS) alumni Brian Yeung at the World University Games this summer. Their performance earned them a HKD$100,000 bonus from the Hong Kong Jockey Club.
“[Winning the bronze medal] was the proudest moment of my tennis career,” said Wong. “For the past few years [the Hong Kong national team] would always make it to the quarter finals and fade away in the big moments. This time, we were able to push through and make it to the semi-finals and honestly, we could have won the gold. It shows how far we’ve come.”
The 21-year-old received a full athletic scholarship to study at the University of Michigan in the US, the same school that Hong Kong swim stars Siobhan Haughey and Claudia Lau go to. He’s been playing professional tennis full-time ever since he graduated in May.
“It’s a lot better, not having to balance tennis with studies,” explained Wong. “Even though training time is roughly the same, the main difference is having more time to rest. It was really difficult balancing school work with tennis, especially in DBS.”
According to Wong, the Hong Kong tennis community is a small circle.
“There are only six to seven full-time pro players including myself, and we are all really good friends,” he said. “We always train together and hang out after practice, so we are very familiar with each other and how we play.
“Sometimes, it feels a little strange when we play against each other, but we never take it easy. We try to win.”
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Wong has had – and will continue to have – a packed schedule in the coming weeks. He helped earn Hong Kong another bronze medal at the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games (AIMAG) in Turkmenistan last month, and is currently competing in a tournament in Thailand. Following that, he will be competing in Turkey for two more weeks before returning to Hong Kong for the CRC Open – one of the city’s biggest local tournaments.
“I am definitely aiming for gold [in the CRC]. It’s mainly local players so I think I can win it, both singles and doubles,” he said.
While his career is taking off, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing for Wong – who has had to fight through an array of injuries to get to where he is today.
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Wong fell in love with tennis because he found it more intellectually stimulating than other sports. He compared it to a classic strategic game of chess.
“Tennis is about far more than just the physical. You have to be able to study your opponent, figure out his game and what he likes to do,” he said. “You have to be able to make the right adjustments, or else you won’t be able to win the match.
“For the past two years, I have been injured for, basically, the entire time,” he said. “I have never been 100 per cent while playing. Sometimes it’s my ankle, sometimes it’s my wrist, sometimes it’s my knee. It is really difficult to stay healthy in this sport.”
It’s because of this that Wong, whose cousin is star Hong Kong figure skater Nicole Chan, advises young tennis players in Hong Kong to take care of their bodies and, just as importantly, set big goals and targets for themselves.