Similar to tennis legend Roger Federer’s amazing feat of saving seven match points in one game, Hong Kong junior girls star Cody Wong Hong-yi had a memorable Australian Open of her own.
The 17-year-old returned from Melbourne last month after her best junior Grand Slam tournament to date, reaching the quarter-finals and bouncing up the junior world rankings. Cody is now ranked 22nd in the International Tennis Federation (ITF) junior girls and starts 2020 with a bang – but it all could have slipped away in the Open’s very first round.
“Tennis is a mental game. It’s all about never giving up,” said Cody, who was knocked out in the main draw’s first round last year. “I was so close to losing in the first round of this Open as my opponent had match point. I had lost the first set 4-6 and was down in the second set 2-5. Then at 3-5 I saved the match point. As Federer would say, it was a miracle. I just learned to never give up.”
Cody, who earned her first ITF title two years ago, is a true perfectionist and still regrets her quarter-final loss. She recalled another crucial point against her Polish opponent that went the other way.
“I was very happy as this was the first singles Grand Slam where I reached the quarter-finals,” she said. “But I was also a bit disappointed because I thought I could do more. In the last match, I gave up a good opportunity in the first set. I was winning 4-1 but lost focus and ultimately lost the set.”
The keys to winning at the Open, where every match is a knockout, were focus and recovery, she added.
Cody, who is still recovering from a shoulder injury she sustained in late 2018, thanked her coach Nikola Zajelac for guiding her through hours of game-time under a sweltering Australian sun.
She was especially grateful to have a conditioning coach “so I could recover and focus in between tournaments,” she said. “I can’t stress how important they were so I’m very thankful.”
The performance was proof that Cody is still an elite Hong Kong junior. As she ponders a professional career, Cody has a few goals to go along with her new ITF and ever-improving Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) ranking. She currently stands 844th in the world.
“It’s a good start to the year and I hope I can do more of that. My aim is to get into the [ITF junior] top 10. This is my last year to do it and I’ll be focusing on women’s tennis,” said Cody, who comes from a family of famous players; her brother, Jack Wong Hong-kit, is the number one men’s singles player in Hong Kong. “At the moment, we’re not too sure [about my future], but I will definitely be studying whatever happens.”
Last year, Cody told Young Post that her ultimate goals were to “not get injured” and work “really, really hard to become a top 100 WTA player”. Has her mission changed? “It’s still the same,” she said confidently, adding that her favourite player is world number two Simona Halep.
Cody said she hopes young tennis players and athletes from the city can block out any negative energy and pursue their dreams.
“It’s still about focusing on yourself – the things that you want to do. Don’t focus on the other things going on around you,” she added. “Reach your own objectives.”