Star player Kevin Wong is helping his alma mater Diocesan Boys’ School (DBS) prepare for the Hong Kong Interschool Tennis Final against La Salle College next month.
“It’s good to be back,” said the Hong Kong national team player and full-time tennis pro. “We have a saying here, ‘once a Diocesan, always a Diocesan’.”
DBS have been interschool champions for 18 years straight, so there is a lot of pressure on the squad to make it 19 on December 2 at Victoria Park. Wong, 21, said he focused on teaching the younger players how to deal with the pressure of competing on such a big stage.
“In my experience, interschool matches are very different from regular individual matches; the format and the atmosphere are completely different,” he said. “We have a lot of good players who have their own games, so I told them not to change too much. I just gave them tips on how to handle pressure, and shared specific techniques to maximise their chances of winning.”
DBS tennis captain Cho Chun-ho said it was great having Wong back, as the team looks up to him as a mentor.
“He gave a lot of great advice on how to improve our games, both mentally and physically,” said Chun-ho, 16. “He taught us some useful tricks and tactics, and told us what to do whenever we are faced with a tough situation. I think speaking and playing with him will help my tennis career.”
Two of DBS’ rising stars, Jonathan Zhang and Sunny Yue Ching-ho, both 17, are looking to follow in Wong’s footsteps – they hope to play tennis at university, then turn pro after graduation.
“Kevin is one of the best players in Hong Kong, so he’s on a different level from the rest of us. We can learn a lot just by playing with him,” said Jonathan, who hopes to play tennis for New York University in the US.
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Sunny, who hopes to play tennis for a university in Hong Kong, believes the upcoming clash against La Salle is going to be DBS’ “toughest so far this season”.
“A lot of our best players graduated or left early to turn pro, and La Salle have a lot of strong players, so it’s going to be a hard match,” he said.
Captain Chun-ho agreed: “We only have two Form Six players whereas La Salle have five. So we’re going to be relying a lot on young blood this year.”
Wong, however, is confident that this DBS squad has what it takes to get the job done.
“We have a lot of young talent from Form One to Form Six,” said Wong, who studied at the University of Michigan, in the US. “They’ve said [that DBS would be in for a tough match] many times before, but we always end up winning. It could be a little closer this year, but I’m always confident about the DBS boys.”
Wong has missed several tournaments in the past few weeks because of a wrist injury. Now that it’s fully healed, he has a packed schedule in the coming weeks, including this week’s CRC Open, and an invitational international tournament in Clear Water Bay early next month.
But one thing’s for certain: he’ll be in Victoria Park next month to support his DBS comrades.