NEW YORK – With fall tournaments that get under way in September and an NCAA Tournament that stretches through the end of May, the college tennis season provides one of the most grueling schedules among all NCAA sponsored sports.
That length is not going to stop Jackie Tang from working on his game all summer long.
Since he arrived to his native Hong Kong after Columbia bowed out in the NCAA Tournament to the eventual National Champions, Virginia, Tang has spent time playing all over Asia, trying to hone his craft.
The summer began for rising sophomore when he represented Team Hong Kong at the 13th Chinese National Games in Tianjin, China. While Team Hong Kong did not perform as well as they would have liked, Tang’s team did make it out of the group stages before losing in the round of 16 to Beijing.
During late June and early July, Tang spent three weeks at a trio of Futures Tournaments, all taking place in Hong Kong.
He found much success in doubles play alongside recent Michigan graduate and fellow Hong Kong native Kevin Wong, as the pair twice reached the semifinal round at a couple of Futures events. Although this is the first time Tang and Wong have played together, their strong play has helped Tang climb in the ATP doubles rankings, up to No. 1,304.
One of the more memorable matches this summer for Tang came in during a singles marathon match. Against Ching Lam, who is another Hong Kong player that will attend Brown in the fall, the pair were on the court for 4 hours, 22 minutes, in a match that Tang came away with, 6-7 (3), 7-6 (6), 7-5. After the long-winded affair, Tang was told it was just 15 minutes shy of the longest known three-set match. Much like his climb in the doubles rankings, his singles ranking soared as well after matches like these, as he is now up to No. 1,216.
As a first-year at Columbia, Tang played in the No. 3 singles position behind 2016 Ivy League Player of the Year Shawn Hadavi and 2017 NCAA Singles qualifier Victor Pham. Although he went 20-7 in singles play, was ranked as high as No. 83 in the ITA Rankings, and excelled in doubles play with Hadavi while earning All-Ivy League accolades, that built-up confidence dwindled upon his return to Asia.
“I ended the last week of the college season playing some of my best tennis, so I expected to pick it right up after my three week break, but I was far from that,” Tang said. “My subpar performances in the beginning of summer affected my confidence in a negative manner. However, I've taken a training block to get physically back in shape and focus on specific things that I've felt I lacked during my matches. I'm happy with the progress that I've made physically and mentally and am excited to start competing again.”
After just wrapping up a singles tournament in Thailand this past week where he advanced to the final round of qualifying, he has a pair of big outings left. Tang will play in the upcoming individual tournament portion of the Chinese National Games, prior to the University Games, which take place in Taiwan.
“I think playing all these tournaments over the summer can really help me hit the ground running in the fall and prepare me for the Newport Grass Invitational,” Tang said.
The aforementioned Newport Grass Invitational gets under way on Friday, Sept. 15, and will provide a challenging start to the season for the winners of the past four Ivy League Men’s Tennis Championships.