Sporting Life

Michael's coaching skills

Sporting Life - January 2015

One of the first successful Asian players returns as a coach to work with future tennis stars in China.

American tennis champion Michael Chang is still inspired by the game and wants to pass on his coaching skills to new generations of players in Asia.

After turning professional at just 15 years of age, he set many records in his tennis career.

“I had my fair share of critics, people saying it’s ridiculous for you to turn pro,”

Striking a balance

Chang was the youngest player to win a main-draw match at the US Open in 1987 and the youngest to reach an ATP Tour semi-final. He was also the youngest ever French Open champion in 1989 aged 17 years and 4 months, and then became the youngest to be ranked in the Top 5.

Despite his love for the game and success at such a young age, Michael was able to strike a balance and completed his US high school diploma before joining the men’s tour full time in the late 1980s.

A passion for the game

“I had my fair share of critics, people saying it’s ridiculous for you to turn pro,” Michael says. “Not being tall enough, not being strong enough. Even not very many Asians play tennis. When you have a passion for something, you don’t let those comments get in the way.”

Michael says it was exciting to be one of the first successful Asian players on tour and his biggest motivation for returning as a coach was to work with future generations of Asian tennis stars.

He also believes it doesn’t make sense for all players to do things the exact same way because everyone has their own individual talents – and he takes this approach to his coaching.

Be your own best player

“In tennis and in life if you’re doing something and it’s not working you need to change,” Michael says. “That’s part of growing and getting better, improving as a player.”

“We all make mistakes but we have the opportunity to learn from those,” Michael says. “The way that you play tennis and the strength that you have are unique to you. And you need to develop those so you can be your own best player, so you can be your own best person out there.”

Chang retired from the professional circuit in 2003 and was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2008. Through the Chang Family Foundation he hosts the annual Michael Chang Tennis Classic raising funds for worthy causes, continues to coach and play, and supports grassroots tennis development in Asia.