By J. Fred Sidhu, special to USTA.com
After experiencing team competition at the highest level of tennis, 42-year-old Albert Chang of San Francisco could be called the ultimate team player at the USTA League Adult 18 & Over 5.0+ National Championships in Indian Wells, Calif.
Chang, representing the USTA Northern California Section, played collegiate tennis at Harvard University, where he was an All-American. After graduating with a degree in Biology in 1992, he turned pro and played on the ATP World Tour until 1997.
During his professional tennis career, he defeated former Wimbledon champion Michael Stich and played against tennis legends such at Stefan Edberg, Jim Courier, Ivan Lendl and Patrick Rafter. Chang appeared in the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament three times, all in singles - the US Open in 1994 and Wimbledon in 1995 and 1996.
Chang, a native of Vancouver, B.C., also played Davis Cup for Canada on two occasions.
“The [tie] that stands out in my mind is the one against Venezuela. We went down to play against them. It was a rowdy crowd. They were very much supporting the home team,” Chang remembered. “It was an honor. We all grew up thinking about playing at Wimbledon and the US Open, but also in the back of your mind, representing your country is a tremendous honor.”
In 2001, Chang moved to the Bay Area, where he currently works as an investment advisor. As a member of the historic Olympic Club, he has continued to play tennis at a high level and has represented the Northern California Section in multiple USTA League National Championships.
“USTA [League] is intense in a different way because with the one singles and two doubles format, every point counts. It’s really fast and it’s sudden death,” he said. “It doesn’t get drawn out to five sets. Matches are decided in a [match] tie-breaker. It’s a completely different form of intensity.”
Chang’s appearance in this weekend’s USTA League Adult 18 & Over 5.0+ National Championships marks his first visit to Indian Wells since 1996, when he played a men’s Challenger event and the qualifying tournament for the ATP Tournament, which is now known as the BNP Paribas Open.
After telling his teammates that he had not been to Indian Wells in 17 years, one team member told Chang he was only 6 years old back then.
“It’s one of things. It puts the whole age thing in perspective,” Chang said with a smile. “It’s fun to be back.”