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Tennis legend Lee Hyung-taek “How to reach the round of 16 at a major? Stamina and challenge”

Stamina and the spirit of challenge. According to Lee Hyung-taek (47), head coach of Orion Tennis Team, these are the essential requirements to reach the round of 16 at a major tournament.

Lee is a “legend” of Korean tennis, having reached the round of 16 at the US Open in 2000 and 2007. He and Hyeon Chung, who reached the quarterfinals of the 2018 Australian Open, are the only two South Koreans to reach the last 16 of a major tournament.

Lee, who has been active as a commentator and TV sports personality while running his own tennis academy since retiring, took over as head coach of the Orion Tennis Team in July last year with the goal of turning promising youngsters into world-class players.

Under his tutelage, the players have come a long way in a year.

Kim Jang-jun (16) won back-to-back singles titles at the ITF New Delhi and Kolkata junior tournaments and climbed to No. 46 in the junior rankings.

Jung Yeon-yeon (16) won back-to-back singles titles at the ITF Jakarta Juniors 1 and 2, and Kim Dong-min (14) won five Asian Tennis Federation (ATF) events.

Despite their achievements, Lee is not satisfied. He believes that the final evaluation will come when they reach the adult stage. He wants them to grow up to be players like him, Jung Hyun and Kwon Soon-woo (Dangjin City Hall), who consistently challenge for major tournaments.

“I’m emphasizing physical fitness a lot with them,” Lee told reporters at the Jangchung Tennis Center in Seoul on the first anniversary of the Orion Tennis Team’s founding. “In a major tournament, it’s important to get through the first week and survive to the second week (round of 16 to the final),” he said.

When he was on the active roster, Lee said, he would do his regular training every day, plus an extra two hours of band exercises to strengthen weak muscles.

“I was a little disappointed (at first) because they couldn’t even do push-ups. “I was disappointed that (at first) they couldn’t even do push-ups,” he says, “but now I have them train their core every day. I think they’re getting to know what it feels like to get better,” he said.

Challenge is also a keyword that Lee emphasizes to his students.

Just as Kwon Soon-woo’s success on the men’s ATP tour has inspired his “best friend” Hong Seong-chan (Sejong City Hall) to become more active on the tour, he hopes to foster a healthy sense of competition among his students.

“I often wonder if Korea’s unemployed team system (where players are guaranteed a salary regardless of their international performance) makes players complacent,” Lee said, adding, “There should be more international tournaments like the Futures in Korea rather than domestic ones.”

“You have to show something to get sponsors. You can’t have the mentality of, ‘If they do it for me, I’ll show them something,'” he emphasized.

Lee’s dream is to nurture more prospects through the Orion Tennis Team and have them compete in major tournaments wearing Orion’s “Dr. U” jerseys. If conditions permit, he hopes to start a women’s team as well.

“Today at the US Open, China’s Zhang Zhiqian beat world No. 5 Kasper Lourdes, which is the result of China’s steady investment since the (2008) Beijing Olympics,” Lee said, adding, “Tennis is not a one- or two-year game. You have to have a long-term goal of 10 years.”

Along with Wu Yubing, Zhang will be in contention for a medal at the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games alongside Kwon Soon-woo and Hong Hong-chan. Zhang and Wu are ranked 67th and 86th in the world, while Kwon and Hong are ranked 104th and 208th.

“Soon-woo Kwon has been out of form due to her injury, and it will be important to see how well she recovers at the Davis Cup,” said Lee. “The doubles team of Kwon Soon-woo and Hong Sung-chan will be fiercely focused as they are close friends and both have military service benefits at stake.” 파워볼사이트


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