Homegrown tennis star aims for the top
Monday, March 05, 2012
The father swung his racket, sending a stream of bouncy green balls zinging over the net.
Whack! Whack! A pause. Then ball after ball came whizzing back to his side of the court.
On the other side of the net stood a little girl staring back with a glare of fierce competitiveness.
Venise Chan Wing-yau was only four years old then.
It may have been ages since the Marymount Secondary School alumna last trained with her tennis-mad father, who introduced her to the sport, but Chan, now 22, is still hitting those bouncy green balls with the same competitive glare.
"I try to be focused, as competitive as possible and fight for every ball because I simply hate to lose," said the soft-spoken Chan who returned to Hong Kong to resume her professional career after three years of overseas studies.
Over the past decade, the 1.6-meter tall Chan has garnered four International Tennis Federation professional circuit titles, the most recent one a US$10,000 (HK$78,000) tournament in Egypt, and many other regional titles. Widely acknowledged to be one of the best players the territory has ever produced, the world number 462 represented Hong Kong in the recent Asian games.
The diminutive Chan is as much cunning as she is athletic, and like her idol Martina Hingis, does not play points as much as craft them.
"Venise is an exceptional talent because she may lack the weapons of many Western players like a big serve, but she outsmarts her opponent on court, using their power to her advantage," said Herbert Chow Siu-lung, chairman of player development at the Hong Kong Tennis Association.
She might be an elegant player, but is no less unrelentingly obsessed with crushing her opponents. In 2007, a 17- year-old Chan defeated the then-Asian champion and former world number 16 Iroda Tulyaganova in an extraordinary 6-3, 1-6, 7-5 performance that shook the tennis world.
After her momentous win, she studied for her business marketing and entrepreneurship degree at the University of Washington.
Chan then set about revolutionizing the univerity's struggling tennis program, and became a three-time All- American in the process.
But her path to excellence has never been easy, as unlike most sports professionals, Chan has had to balance the demands of the sport and her studies all her life.
"I may have to sacrifice a little, but the discipline that tennis has instilled in me has driven me to do well in other aspects of my life, like my studies," she said.
Her goal is to get into the top 200 world rankings, but Chow believes she has the ability to break into the top 100.