Kwon Becomes Latest Korean Challenger Success Story
The teenager reached the Yokohama final without dropping a set
South Korean tennis is thriving with a talented trio causing a stir on the ATP Challenger Tour.
#NextGenATP player Hyeon Chung leads the charge at No. 92 in the Emirates ATP Rankings. The 20 year old has captured three Challenger titles in the past six months (Kaohsiung, Kobe and Maui).
Just behind is teenager Duckhee Lee. The 18 year old, currently World No. 135, has also reached a Challenger final, losing to Chung last September in Kaohsiung.
And last week, 19 year old Soon Woo Kwon emerged at the $50,000 ATP Challenger Tour event in Yokohama. The university student advanced through three rounds of qualifying and then topped four opponents in straight sets to clinch a spot in the final. Top seed and local favourite Yuichi Sugita was forced to fend off two match points against Kwon to eventually prevail 6-4, 2-6, 7-6(2).
“First of all, reaching this final pulled my ranking up to where I can play at the French Open,” reflected the World No. 231. “Also, the final left a big impression on me, I will play with more confidence in the matches to come.”
Having achieved such an impressive run to the Yokohama final, Kwon revealed that seeing the success of Chung and Lee has inspired his recent progress.
“Duckhee was my junior at Mapo High School, so we are very close. He is one year younger than I am, and he is ranked much higher. Because he is doing so well, it motivates me to do better when I think about how I am ranked lower than my junior,” said Kwon. “I think him doing so well makes me work harder. I am also close with Hyeon (Chung), we eat out together when we are in Korea.”
Kwon admits it would mean a “great deal” to join his countrymen in featuring at ATP World Tour events, but he is also aware of the level of work that is still required to reach that goal. “I need to improve in many regards,” added Kwon. “I need to build up endurance and physical strength, work on physical aspects.”
Should his fledging career continue to soar, who would Kwon like to emulate on the court?
“I like watching Federer and Murray play," he admitted. "Federer’s game is very glamorous, and above all, very cool.”