When Coleman Wong, a 13-year-old Diocesan Boys’ School (DBS) student, isn’t serving aces and playing volleys, he is unfazed by the pressure of being Hong Kong’s biggest tennis prodigy.
“I’m fine with the pressure, because I’m confident, and I set high standards for myself,” said Coleman. “I’ve wanted to play in a Grand Slam since I was 10, and I am confident that I’ll do that eventually.”
Coleman started playing tennis when he was five, and said he fell in love with the game right away.
“I love the sound of the ball hitting the racket, and I love the feeling of winning a point after a long rally,” said Coleman, who made a name for himself after reaching the final of the Longines Future Aces tournament – one of the world’s most prestigious junior tennis events – in Paris in June.
He was inches away from winning that contest, before being defeated 2-4, 4-3, 7-6 by Poland’s Martyn Pawelski.
“I’m disappointed I lost, but I’m happy with the result because I didn’t expect to make the final,” said Coleman, adding that he models his game after Swiss master Roger Federer. “It was a great learning experience.”
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Coleman has only improved his game since that loss. “I’ve been training, and working hard, every day. I’ve got a lot better [since that tournament].”
Coleman’s skills are so advanced for his age that he is able to train at the Hong Kong Sports Institute (HKSI) with seasoned professionals.
“I love training at the HKSI, [there are] a lot of good facilities, and a lot of good training partners who are much older than me.”
One such training partner is Kevin Wong, a DBS alumni and a Hong Kong national team player.
“I leave school early every Thursday to go to HKSI to train with Kevin. I learn a lot from him,” Coleman said, adding that he wants to follow in Kevin’s footsteps by getting a tennis scholarship to the University of Michigan in the US, before becoming a full-time professional.
Coleman helped lead DBS to its 18th consecutive interschool tennis championship last Saturday, beating a La Salle college team that featured mostly Form Five and Form Six players.
“He is a special talent, and he has the potential to be seen as Hong Kong’s best tennis player,” said DBS tennis coach Charles Wu.
The sky really is the limit for Coleman, who has the ability to compete with players much older than him, and who proved in Paris that he can be called one of the world’s best young players.
When asked if he thinks he can become the first Hongkonger to break into the top 100 in the men’s rankings, he replied: “Definitely.”
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As one of the most prominent faces of the next generation of tennis talent in the city, Coleman had some useful advice for other young aspiring tennis stars in the city.
“I think you need to start playing as early as possible, because you need to ask yourself: ‘Do you love the sport?’ If the answer is yes, then you need to train and work hard every day.”
He added that he thinks footwork is the most important part of the sport.
“If you’re slow, and your footwork isn’t good, you’re not going to be able to get into a good position to hit the ball,” explained Coleman.
He also recommends following professional tennis players and learning from them.
“Once you figure out what style of tennis you prefer, like if it’s attack- or defence-based, you can pick someone to look up to, and that person can be your target [that you want to beat],” Coleman said. “For me, my idol is Roger Federer.”