Korean teens advance at U.S. Open

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Korean teens advance at U.S. Open

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Junior tennis player Chung Yun-seong, 16, signs autographs on Monday after winning his first round match in the 2014 U.S. Open junior tournament in New York.Provided by the Korea Tennis Association

Despite Korea’s lack of adult professional tennis players, two teenagers are excelling in the U.S. Open juniors tournament in New York.

No Korean adult has been in a major tennis tournament since Lee Hyung-taik, now 38, competed in the U.S. Open in 2008, but the teens don’t seem to mind.

In the first round of this year’s U.S. Open junior boys’ singles match on Tuesday, 16-year-old Lee Duck-hee, No. 10 in junior rankings, faced 83rd-ranked Sameer Kumar, 17, of the United States.

Lee, who lost the first set 3-6, suddenly bent over and vomited on the ground while preparing to serve in the second set. Three medical workers rushed to him. Medical timeouts in tennis matches are usually limited to three minutes, but Lee’s lasted longer than 10.

It seemed as though Lee might forfeit, but instead he took a deep breath and grasped his racket again.

Though he still occasionally clutched at his stomach throughout the match, he won the two remaining sets 6-3, 6-2 and advanced to the second round.

“I still don’t feel good,” said Lee after the match. “It was so hard, but I did not want to lose the match.”

In his second-round match yesterday, Lee beat 44th-ranked Sumit Nagal from India, putting him through to the Round of 16.

Another South Korean junior player, Chung Yun-seong, 16, even drew a standing ovation after his first-round match lasting two and a half hours on Monday. The 25th-ranked Korean had to play against American Michael Mmoh, 16, who is ranked 14th.

After each of the two players won a set 4-6 and 6-3, the stands, which had only 50 spectators when the match started, became packed with hundreds of tennis fans by the third set. The largely American crowd cheered every time Mmoh won a point. He won six games first, making it 6-5, but Chung caught up to make it 6-6, requiring a tiebreaker.

Suddenly, people watching the game, including many Americans, began to cheer for Chung, shouting, “Go, Chung” or “Come on, Chung.”

Chung got a cramp during the prolonged match but managed to beat Mmoh 7-5 in the tiebreaking set.

As soon as the match was over, Chung lay down on the ground, exhausted. But the audience stood and applauded his performance, and some even lined up to get his autograph.

“I have never had a cramp this bad,” said Chung. “But I fought tooth and nail to win the match.”

Chung is scheduled to face 71st-ranked Mikael Ymer of Sweden in his second round match early this morning.

BY PARK SO-YOUNG AND KIM BONG-MOON [bongmoon@joongang.co.kr]



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