Shang wins Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation tennis championships

While Chinese women, especially two-time Grand Slam champion Li Na, have achieved great success in professional tennis, the men have not done so well.

Juncheng Shang, currently world number one in juniors, intends to reverse this trend.

On Wednesday afternoon, Shang, known as Jerry to his friends, knocked down No.554-seeded Damien Wenger, No. 2 seed, 6-1, 6-4 in a first round match at the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation tennis championships. , a $ 15,000 ITF Futures event held annually at the Boulevard Tennis Club.

Shang, a sixteen-year-old southpaw with a two-handed backhand, paused early in the second set and trailed 1-4 before turning around. It helped that he also beat Wenger in a difficult three-set semi-final at last week’s ITF Futures in Napoli.

“The (clay) courts are really quick and really suited my game, so I started off strong,” said Shang, classified at 1,008 and in climbing. “But the balls got old (and slower) and he started to rally more, so I couldn’t get any winners from the baseline. I lost my patience, but I remembered the same happened last week, so I told myself to be patient and every point counts, otherwise in five minutes I would be in another third set with him. So I fought and I never gave up. ”

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Since reaching the final of the US Open junior championships last summer, Shang has won two of the five $ 15,000 ITF events, including in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and last week in Naples where he beat Duarte Vale of Portugal, 21. In the finale.

The Chinese teen, who trains at IMG Academy in Bradenton, is the youngest player to win a men’s singles title on the ITF Tour since Spain’s Carlos Alcaraz and Italy’s Luca Nardi triumphed at the events ITF when they were still only 16 years old. Alcaraz, 18, had a breakthrough at the US Open where he reached the quarterfinals.

The only Chinese man ranked in the top 500 is Yan Bai at 410. There are five Chinese women ranked in the top 114, led by No.55 Zhang Shuai, formerly ranked 23 in 2016.

Na, a two-time Grand Slam champion who reached world No.2 but retired in 2014 at just 32, had an influence on Shang. He moved to Bradenton at IMG Academy in 2019 where he trains with his father, Yi, and coaches Jimmy Arias and Martin Damm.

Shang, who is 5-foot-11, believes there are several strong Chinese junior male players and that a major breakthrough is imminent.

“I’m only 16,” Shang said with a laugh, following in Na’s footsteps. “I trained in China from 5 to 11 years old, and most of the players are talented. I hope there will be more players and I will compete with players from my country.

“Li Na has been a great inspiration to all Chinese athletes. Seeing her so well makes us think that we can do it too. Also Zheng Shuai (who won two doubles Grand Slam titles), I know her very well and always talk when we have free time. I first met her when I was 9 in Beijing. ”

In another first-round match, Michael Zheng, 17, a US Tennis Association wild-card participant, defeated New Zealand qualifier Reece Falck, 7-5, 6-1 to earn his first point of ATP ranking.

“It’s a great feeling,” said Zheng, whose best junior result was winning the 16 USTA National Boys Indoor Championships. “Seeing young players like Jerry and others at the US Open has inspired us to see that the next generation is in good hands.”

Although the gangly 6-foot-1 Zheng is originally from Virginia and resides in Montville, New Jersey, his parents are also native Chinese, so like Sheng, he also hopes to help develop the sport in Asia.

“Tennis is not a priority in China, but it is gaining momentum,” Zheng said. “Sure, size and strength played a role, but China is also so overcrowded that there aren’t many courts or access to the game.”

In another first round, third-seeded Ricardo Rodriguez (ranked No.613), a Davis Cup legend for Venezuela, moved away from American Fletcher Scott 6-4, 3-6, 6- 1. Rodriguez, 28, has won 10 ITF Futures singles tournaments and is the all-time leader in singles wins in Davis Cup matches for his country (22-9).

While Michael Chang remains a national hero in China for his decisive victory at Roland Garros in 1989 when he was just 17, Chang was born in Hoboken, NJ and raised in San Diego.

Chinese men dominate table tennis and badminton, but tennis is another story.

One theory explaining the lack of success of Chinese players is that there is a lack of tennis courts in a crowded country. Additionally, the expense of educating a junior tennis player can be prohibitive, and Asian parents typically prioritize education over sports, so young players cannot spend as many hours playing the game. field training than other cultures. The shortest Top 10 player is Casper Rudd at 6 feet, while five out of 10 are 6-4 or higher. Chang, just 5-foot-8, coaches Japan’s most successful player, Kei Nishikori, who at 5-10 is the only Asian man to reach a Grand Slam tournament final (US Open 2014).

“At the end of the day, it’s how smart you play your game,” Chang told the Washington Post in 2019. “It’s using your strengths to combat the weaknesses of other players. no matter how strong they are, everyone has weaknesses. It’s about going out there and finding it. ”

For updated schedules and results of the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation Tennis Championships, visit

Wednesday’s first singles scores – first round

Jerry Shang (China) defeated. Damien Wenger (Switzerland) 6-1, 6-4

Ben Shelton (Gainesville) defeats. Bruno Kuzuhara (Coconut Creek, Florida) 7-5, 7-6 (9)

Ricardo Rodriguez (Venezuela) beats. Fletcher Scott (Champaign, Illinois) 6-4, 3-6, 6-1

Liam Draxl (Canada) defeated. Alan Kohen (Argentina) 6-1, 6-2

Diogo Marqes (Portugal) defeated. AJ Catanzariti (College Station, Texas) 2-6, 6-3, 6-3

Loris Pourrot (France) defeated. Federico Bertuccioli (Italy) 6-4, 6-0

Michael Zheng (Montville, NJ) beat. Reece Falck (New Zealand) 7-5, 6-1

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