To an outsider, tennis might seem like a simple game. One player hits the ball across the net, the other hits it back. Back and forth; it seems pretty straightforward – even dull.
But Jack Wong Hong-kit knows better. “Tennis is full of variation and you will never get bored,” says the 17-year-old tennis star.
Former La Salle College student has been a full-time athlete at Hong Kong Sports Institute since he was 15. It was a big decision, but one he realised he had to make. As he told SCMP last year, “I can always go back and study, but I can never get back this opportunity to turn professional. If I don’t take it, it will be gone forever. “
And it was the right choice. He became the youngest player to earn the title in the singles event – having already clinched the doubles gold – at the 2015 CRC Open in November, a local event that has been held since 1948. The win served as a confidence boost for his upcoming events.
While he has been playing tennis for seven years, he says his love for the sport began much earlier.
“My dad took me to a tennis game,” Jack remembers, “then let me join a kids’ ‘interest class’ when I was just six years old.
“My dad was a big influence.”
Now Jack represents Hong Kong in regional and international tournaments.
In January, he won gold in doubles, and silver at the Shenzhen ITF Junior tournament after he suffered a straight sets 6-3, 6-3 loss against China’s Liu Yizhou.
Also in January, he reached the finals of the HKITF Juniors 2016. It was a challenging tournament, with three days of heavy rain making conditions tough.
“I spent too much energy in the semi-final which tired me out for the final,” admits Jack. He eventually lost 5-7, 6-4, 6-1 to Taiwan’s Bang Shueo-yin.
While that tournament may not have been Jack’s best, he can look back at past accomplishments with pride. In 2014 he made it into the Junior Davis Cup final round and finished in 11th
In order to stay on top of his game, Jack trains hard. “I spend four and a half hours training Monday to Friday,” Jack says, “with an extra one-and-a-half-hour fitness session on Monday and Thursday afternoons, and two and a half hours training on Saturday mornings.”
It’s a gruelling schedule, but as Jack has his eyes set on one day playing in a Grand Slam, he knows he needs to be at the top of his game.
And it’s that personal push and drive that keeps Jack going forward in tennis. “It’s an individual sport, so you can always challenge yourself,” he says.
You can have any superpower you choose for 24 hours. What do you choose and how do you use this power?
The ability to fly. I could visit many places in a short time. It would be amazing to see Earth from space.
If you could have an unlimited supply of anything, what would it be and why?
Health, you can’t do anything without it.
10 years in the future, you are a famous athlete. What company do you sign on as spokesperson for, and what product do you promote?
Nike, to promote their tennis products. I want to help develop tennis in Hong Kong.