The Asian Games wrapped up in Incheon, South Korea this week, and standing atop the gold medal podiums for men's singles and doubles tennis were IMG Academy alumni Yoshihito Nishioka and Hyeon Chung, respectively. Like Kei Nishikori before him, Nishioka left Japan after earning an opportunity through the Morita Fund, which funds the athletic training and education of promising young Japanese tennis players, and enrolled at IMG Academy at age-14.
Sixteen-year old IMG Academy student-athlete, Ingrid Neel, a native of Rochester, Minn., captured the biggest win of her young career at the $10,000 Amelia Island Women’s Championship over the weekend. Neel persevered through eight total rounds of tennis, three in qualifying and five main draw matches, capturing the title when 29-year old Edina Gallovits-Hall of Romania retired in the final, tied at 4-4 in the first set. The win marked the first professional title for the young phenom.
IMG Academy's Sabine Lisicki, a native of Troisdorf, Germany, won her first WTA title in three years at the Hong Kong Open on Sunday. In the final, the 24-year old Lisicki, ranked #24 in the WTA standings, took down Karolina Pliskova in straight sets, 7-5, 6-3. Lisicki, like recent U.S. Open finalist Kei Nishikori of Japan, has been training at IMG Academy for over a decade.
On Saturday evening, IMG Academy's Naoki Nakagawa, partnering with Australia's Omar Jasika, won the U.S. Open Junior Doubles tournament. Nakagawa and Jasika were the sixth-seed in the tournament, and faced the Brazilian duo of Joao Menezes and Rafael Matos in the final, winning 6-3, 7-6.
In what is being considered a stunning upset, a relatively unknown Japanese tennis player, Kei Nishikori, defeated the No.1 ranked Novak Djokovic in the 2014 U.S. Open tennis championship on Saturday – becoming the first Japanese man to reach a Grand Slam final in tennis history.
So exactly who is this hot up-and-comer? We've compiled five things to know about the guy who just seriously shook up the tennis world.
TOKYO — Kei Nishikori is the first Japanese man to reach a Grand Slam singles final, but in Japan he is seen as a most un-Japanese sports hero.
IMG Academy's own Kei Nishikori was already on a historic run at the U.S. Open when he became the first Japanese playeer since 1918 to reach a Grand Slam semifinal. Now, Nishikori occupies an even more significant place in tennis history as the first male Asian born player to reach a Grand Slam final today. Nishikori achieved the feat by ousting current world #1 ranked Novak Djokovic of Serbia in four sets, 6-4, 1-6, 7-6, 6-3 to advance to the final.
It has been a remarkable 10-year period of growth and development for Japan's Kei Nishikori, who arrived at IMG Academy in 2004 at 14-years of age. He was one of the first promising young talent selected by the [Masaaki] Morita Tennis Fund to develop in the U.S. with an emphasis on both skill development and English language and cultural education. Mr. Masaaki Morita, former CEO of the Sony Corporation, created the tennis fund to further Japanese tennis with these elements in mind.
On the heels of his ITF Fergana Cup victory in August, Hady Habib was on top once again, winning the Boys 18s division of the USTA Summer Smash Sectionals in Delray Beach, Fla., held Aug. 30 - Sept. 1. Habib made short work of the field, cruising through the first four rounds of the main draw in straight sets. In the final, Habib faced Tripp Tuff of Jacksonville, Fla. The match went to a tie-break, and Habib went on to win 6-4, 5-7 [10-3].