Another beautiful summer day in sunny Newport Beach. Excitement is in the air and lots of fun ahead of us at the 2017 Michael Chang Tennis Classic.
Michael Chang, originally from Hoboken, New Jersey, set numerous “youngest player records,” turning pro at just 15 years of age. In 1987, he became the youngest player to win a main draw match at the U.S. Open and the youngest to reach a Tour semifinal. Later in 1989, he became the youngest French Open/Grand Slam Champion ever, ranking among the top five in the world.
Today, Michael is a devoted father of three, a speaker and a coach of #8 world-ranked tennis player Kei Nishikori. Besides funding the Christian Sports League (CSL) in Seattle, Washington, CLS’ mission is to introduce people to Christ by using sports as an avenue through which individuals experience the Christian faith. Furthermore, Michael launched the Chang Family Foundation in 2002. The organization is a Christian-based charity focused on sports as well as Asian and local outreach programs.
Locally, Chang hosts one of Orange County’s premiere tennis events, the Michael Chang Tennis Classic. This year’s event was held on July 29th at the Newport Beach Tennis Club and was expected to raise around $100,000 to benefit HomeAid OC, an organization devoted to building new lives for homeless individuals and families, and the Chang Family Foundation. As Chang stated,
“We keep children very close to our hearts. Our duty is to change lives and hearts.” He went on to say, “We are partnering with Newport Beach because it is a place that generously supports our cause.”
The tournament featured Michael Chang and Kei Nishikori in a world Class Tennis Doubles Pro Exhibition against Mark Philippoussis and Justin Gimelstob.
Kei Nishikori, the star of the tournament, was born in 1989 in Japan. He is currently ranked No. 8 in the world by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP). Surprisingly enough, Kei is the only male Japanese tennis player ever to be ranked inside the top 10 in singles. He began playing tennis at the age of five and first won the All Japan Tennis Championships for Kids in 2001. Nishikori moved to Bradenton, Florida, to join the IMG Academy in 2004 at 14 years of age. His career high was in 2015 when he was ranked as #4 by the ATP, accumulating 11 titles. That year Nishikori attained 328 wins and only 153 losses, generating a total of approximately $17.4 million in prizes from singles and doubles matches combined. This year, he is 27-11, ranked #8 with 0 titles and a prize total of $1.3 Million so far.
Mark Philippoussis, originally from Melbourne, Australia, was two times Davis Cup winner representing Australia in 1999 and 2013. In addition, he was a US Open finalist in 1988 and in 2003 at Wimbledon, losing to his fellow countryman Pat Rafter and Swiss Roger Federer. His career high singles world ranking is #8.
Justin Gimelstob was born in 1977 and was elected to the ATP Board of Directors in June 2008. The New Jersey native is a former ATP pro who played from 1996-2007, capturing 13 career ATP doubles titles and two mixed doubles titles at the Australian Open and Roland Garros in 1998 (w/Venus Williams). He reached his lone ATP singles final in Newport in 2006. Justin is currently a commentator for the Tennis Channel, based in Santa Monica, California. He began playing tennis at age eight with older brother Josh and younger brother Russell. Justin won the U.S. National Boys’ 18s singles title and reached the Roland Garros junior doubles final in 1995.
In addition, the tournament also included a grudge match between USC’s Tanner Smith versus UCLA’s Austin Rapp with USC’s Smith prevailing.