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National

2020 Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Sally Milano | May 22, 2020

In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month this May, USTA.com is celebrating several Asian-American players who have made—or are in the process of making—their mark in tennis.

 

Kristie Ahn – The Flushing Meadows, N.Y., native received a wild card to compete in the 2019 US Open and reached the fourth round of her hometown tournament, defeating former Grand Slam champions Svetlana Kuznetsova and Jelena Ostapenko, before falling to No. 25 seed Elise Mertens. Ahn, who graduated from Stanford University in 2014 with a degree in Science, Technology and Society, played for four years at Stanford, and the three-time All-American scored the clinching point in the Cardinal’s 2013 NCAA team championship victory over Texas A&M. In 2019, she made her Top-100 debut and ended the year at No. 91. The 27-year-old is currently ranked No. 96 in the WTA rankings.

 

Michael Chang (pictured above) – The 2008 International Tennis Hall of Fame inductee became the youngest player in history to win the French Open, when he captured the title in 1989 at the age of 17 years, 110 days. Chang overcame cramps to stun Ivan Lendl in the fourth round, and in the final, he defeated six-time Grand Slam singles champion Stefan Edberg, 6-1, 3-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2, for the championship. At age 15, the Hoboken, N.J., native captured both the 1987 Boys’ 18s Hard Courts and the Boys’ 18s Nationals. By winning the Boys’ Nationals title, he received a wild card to compete in the US Open and became the youngest player to a win a main-draw match, defeating Paul McNamee in four sets in the first round. In addition to winning the French Open, Chang reached the final of both the Australian Open and the US Open in 1996. During his 16-year career, he won a total of 34 singles titles, reached a career-high ranking of No. 2 in the world (September 1996), and reached the year-end Top 10 for six consecutive years (1992-97). Chang officially retired from the tour in 2003 but is still involved in tennis. Since 2014, he has served as the head coach of Japanese star Kei Nishikori.

 

Samantha Crawford – The former world No. 98 has not competed since the fall of 2017 due to a serious left knee injury that has kept her off tour. Crawford cracked the Top 100 in July 2016 after reaching the second round of Wimbledon. Earlier that year, the 25-year-old from Atlanta had a career-best result in Brisbane, where she qualified into the main draw and reached the semifinals, defeating No. 7 seed Belinda Bencic in the Round of 16 before falling to Victoria Azarenka. Before that breakthrough performance, Crawford gained worldwide attention by winning the 2012 US Open girls' singles title.

 

Jamie Hampton – The former world No. 24 announced her retirement just days ago after being sidelined for six years with several injuries and surgeries that kept her from competing on tour. Now 30, the right-hander from Alabama had a career year in 2013, when she advanced to three semifinals (Auckland, Brussels, Stanford) and reached the Round of 16 at the French Open, becoming the first Asian-American woman to advance to the Round of 16 at a major since Lilia Osterloh did so at Wimbledon and the US Open in 2000. Hampton posted three Top-10 wins in her career, including victories over then-world No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska and No. 9 Caroline Wozniacki en route to the 2013 Eastbourne final. She also reached the doubles final in Quebec City in 2011 for her career-best doubles result. The last tournament Hampton played was at 2014 Auckland, where she advanced to the semifinals before falling to Venus Williams. In the retirement announcement she posted on Twitter, she said that her next chapter will include a return to college in the fall.

 

Vania King – A fixture on the WTA Tour for the last 15 years, King has won 16 WTA titles in her career—one in singles (2006 Bangkok) and 15 in doubles, including two Grand Slam women’s doubles championships at Wimbledon and the US Open, both in 2010 with partner Yaroslava Shvedova. The 31-year-old Californian also reached the women’s doubles semifinals at the 2011 French Open and the quarterfinals at the Australian Open in 2012 and 2016, and she teamed with Marcelo Melo to reach the French Open mixed doubles final in 2009. In singles play, King has reached the third round of every Grand Slam except Wimbledon, where she advanced to the second round twice. She reached a career-high singles ranking of No. 50 in November 2006, just four months after turning pro, and she was ranked as high as No. 3 in the world in doubles in June 2011. King represented the U.S. in eight Fed Cup ties between 2006 and 2011.

 

Thai-Son Kwiatkowski – Kwiatkowski, who trains at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Fla., reached a career-high ranking of No. 181 in the world after capturing his first career ATP title this past February at the Oracle Challenger Series Newport Beach tournament in Newport Beach, Calif. The 25-year-old from Charlottesville, Va., graduated with a degree in business from the University of Virginia in 2017, where he won the NCAA singles title as a senior and led the Cavaliers to three straight NCAA team titles, from 2015-17. He was a three-time singles All-American at UVA, as well as a back-to-back ACC Men's Tennis Scholar-Athlete of the Year honoree, and he finished his career ranked fourth in program history in total wins (136). Kwiatkowski received a wild card to compete in the 2017 US Open after winning the NCAA singles title and, in his Grand Slam debut, nearly upset No. 23 seed Mischa Zverev in a five-set thriller, 7-6, 4-6, 4-6, 7-5, 6-3. A year before in New York, he won the American Collegiate Invitational at the 2016 US Open. As a junior, Kwiatkowski ranked as high as No. 13 in the world. He competed in all four junior Grand Slam tournaments in singles and doubles, reaching the doubles quarterfinals at the 2012 junior US Open and Roland Garros. 

 

Ann Li – Li finished runner-up at junior Wimbledon in 2017, falling to Claire Liu in the all-American final. Just two weeks later, she won her first professional tournament—a $15K ITF hardcourt event in Evansville, Ind. Now 19, the Pennsylvania native made her Grand Slam main-draw debut after qualifying into the 2020 Australian Open, where she upset No. 1 qualifying seed Ana Bogdan in a three-set thriller in the final-round of qualies and won her first-round main-draw match before falling in the second round to eventual champion Sofia Kenin. She competed in her first career WTA-level main draw at Auckland the week prior to the Australian Open. Li, who lives and trains at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Fla., reached a career-high ranking of No. 122 in February 2020, and is now at No. 131. 

 

Claire Liu – The 19-year-old from Thousand Oaks, Calif., had an outstanding junior career, highlighted by winning the 2017 Wimbledon girls' title, finishing runner-up at the French Open just a few months earlier, capturing the 2016 Wimbledon girls' doubles title (with Usue Arconada), and achieving the No. 1 ITF World Junior Ranking in the summer of 2017. Liu became the first player—boy or girl—in the 50-year history of the prestigious Easter Bowl junior tournament to win two 18s titles over a three-year span, winning the event in 2017 at age 16 as well as in 2015 at the age of 14. On the pro tour, she won her first professional singles title in March 2015 at the $10,000 USTA Pro Circuit event in Orlando, Fla. By winning the championship, Liu became the youngest woman since Anna Kournikova in 1996 to win a USTA Pro Circuit tournament—at the age of 14 years, 9 months, 25 days old—and the sixth-youngest ever. She reached a career-high WTA ranking of No. 137 in January 2019 and is currently ranked No. 236.

 

Mackie McDonald – Currently ranked No. 271 in the ATP rankings, McDonald reached a career-high ranking of No. 57 in April 2019 after advancing to the third round in Barcelona. An injury to his right hamstring required surgery in June 2019 and kept him off tour for the remainder of the year. Before the coronavirus pandemic halted play on the pro tour at the start of 2020, he was making a successful comeback bid, with results that include upsetting top-seeded Juan Martin del Potro, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6, in the quarterfinals of the Delray Beach Open in February, giving him his first appearance in an ATP semifinal and his first win over a Top-10 player. The 25-year-old from Piedmont, Calif., reached the Round of 16 at Wimbledon in 2018, becoming the first man to advance to the fourth round on his debut at the All England Club since Nick Kyrgios reached the quarterfinals in 2014. Later that season, McDonald qualified into the ATP Masters 1000 event in Shanghai, where he beat No. 20-ranked Milos Raonic. In 2013, he qualified into Cincinnati, becoming the first unranked teenager to qualify for an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament since Sergio Casal at 1995 Miami. McDonald attended UCLA for three years and won the 2016 NCAA singles and doubles titles in 2016 before turning pro. He was named the ITA National Men's College Player of the Year his junior year. 

 

Dana Mathewson - The 29-year-old San Diego native reached a career-best No. 5 in the junior wheelchair world rankings in 2008 and, a decade later, cracked the women's Top 10 to become the top-ranked wheelchair tennis player in the U.S. Mathewson has been a member of the U.S. World Cup team eight times. She represented the U.S. at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio, where she reached the singles Round of 16 and the doubles quarterfinals. Among her other career highlights, she won the gold medal in doubles and a bronze in singles at the 2019 Parapan American Games, reached the doubles quarterfinals at the 2016 British Open and advanced to the fourth round in both singles and doubles at the 2016 Japan Open. A graduate of the University of Arizona, where she played wheelchair tennis from 2009-13, Mathewson is pursuing a master's degree in audiology and would eventually like to work in pediatrics. 

 

Grace Min – Min was a junior standout, winning the US Open girls’ singles title and the Wimbledon girls’ doubles crown (with Eugenie Bouchard) in 2011 and climbing to No. 4 in the world junior rankings. She made her women’s Grand Slam main-draw debut by qualifying into the 2013 French Open and has competed in six majors overall—three French Opens, two US Opens and one Australian Open. Min reached a career-best ranking of No. 97 in the world in March 2015. She has won 11 USTA Pro Circuit titles in career, most recently the $25,000 event in Evansville, Ind., last year.

 

Brandon Nakashima – The 18-year-old San Diego native, currently ranked No. 220 in the world, won his first ATP match at age 18 at the Delray Beach Open in February 2020—a straight-sets win over Jiri Vesely. Nakashima played a year of college tennis at the University of Virginia, where he earned ACC Freshman of the Year honors during the 2018-19 season and posted a 17-5 record in singles. He announced in December 2019 that he was turning pro and wouldn't return to UVA for his sophomore season. In junior play, he reached a career-high ranking of No. 4 in the world in the summer of 2019, won the 2018 ITF Junior Masters in Chengdu, China, and reached the boys' semifinals at the 2019 US Open.

 

Lilia Osterloh – Osterloh, who officially retired from tennis in 2019, turned pro in 1997 after playing for a year at Stanford University, where she helped lead the Cardinal to the NCAA team championship. Among the highlights of the former junior world No. 2's 14-year career, she reached the fourth round at Wimbledon and the US Open in 2000, won three WTA doubles titles and achieved a career-high ranking of No. 41 in April 2001. The Ohio native also made history at the 2001 US Open, where she participated in the first women's doubles match to be aired live on primetime television, teaming with Kim Grant in a battle against Jennifer Capriati and Martina Hingis.

 

Jessica Pegula – World No. 80 Pegula captured the first WTA title of her career last summer at the Citi Open in Washington, D.C., defeating Camila Giorgi in the final and reaching a career-high ranking of No. 55 after the win. The 26-year-old from Buffalo, N.Y., reached her first WTA final at Quebec City in 2018, and finished the 2019 season ranked No. 76 for her first Top-100 finish. She kicked off 2020 by finishing runner-up at Auckland, defeating No. 5 seed Caroline Wozniacki in the semifinals before falling to No. 1 Serena Williams in the final.

 

Meilen Tu – Tu first made a name for herself at the 1994 US Open Junior Championships, where she upset top-seeded Martina Hingis, 6-2, 6-4, to capture the girls’ singles title. That same year, she won the USTA Girls’ 18s Nationals title to earn a wild card to compete in the women’s main draw in New York. The Tarzana, Calif., native played in 31 Grand Slam singles main draws in her career and reached at least the second round at each of the four majors. Her best performance in a Slam came at 2002 Wimbledon, where she advanced to the third round. She also reached the Round of 16 at all four majors in doubles. Tu won one WTA singles title (2001 Auckland) and four career doubles titles. She finished in the year-end Top 100 six times and notched career-best rankings in singles (No. 35) and doubles (No. 28) in 2007. She officially retired in 2010.

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