Tennis Prose



Shang Wins Lexington Challenger With Rios

Juncheng Shang has declared himself a force to be reckoned with as he sensationally won the Lexington ATP Challenger with a 64 64 final triumph over 30 year old Ecuadorian veteran Emilion Gomez.

I didn’t see lefty Shang miss a ball in the last four minutes of the stunning victory by the 17 year old, who since July 22 has been coached by former world no. 1 Marcelo Rios.

Rios promised young Shang he would travel to Lexington if the youngster managed to reach the semifinals. Perhaps inspired and motivated to earn the valuable visit from the famous or infamous tennis wizard from Chile. Shang scored spectacular wins all week.

In the first round he won a three setter vs American Dostanic. In the R16, Shang beat former ATP top 25 player Mikhail Kukushkin 76 63.

In the QF, Shang was bageled in the first set by top seed Roman Safiullin but then made the correct adjustments and won a marathon 64 75.

In the SF, Shang won another marathon vs American Aleksadar Kovavecic 36 76 64 with Rios in attendance.

Today the final matched Shang vs Emilio Gomez, the son of former Roland Garros champ Andres Gomez. Shang again rose to the occasion of his first ATP Challenger final and scored the dominant win 64 64. The final game of the match was a multiple deuce service game by Gomez and the final point of the match was Shang hitting a two-handed backhand up the line that clipped the net cord and dropped over for the winner. Shang had to apologize for his luck which inhibited his celebration. Rios had said this week that Shang has a nature to be too sorry when he gets net cord winners so it was an ironic way to win the biggest title of his career.

Rios said last week he is thrilled by the potential of Shang and wakes up in the middle of the night thinking of ways to refine and improve the Chinese prospect. Rios said he has made some changes to the serve, forehand and backhand of Shang.

Shang, without a doubt, has to be thrilled and extra motivated by having such a renowned and experienced figure as Rios in his corner working on his behalf. The value of the wisdom and knowledge of Rios is already making a profound impact on Shang and it’s positively exciting to imagine how far this unique, unlikely combination can continue to grow and develop.

With the win Shang will improve his ranking from 344 to possibly inside the top 250. He is, to my knowledge, the ATP’s highest ranked 17 year old.

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