At the beginning of the month, Andrew Li was not with the Jackets in his usual spot in the lineup as they squared off against Georgia State and Auburn. Rather, Li was fulfilling his obligations for his home country.
Li answered the call of Michael Walker, director of Player Development of the Hong Kong Tennis Association (HKTA). Walker informed Li that he had been selected as one of the four players who would represent Hong Kong in the Davis Cup.
For Li, who had grown up in Hong Kong, the opportunity to represent his country presented itself when he went back home a few months ago. He quickly accepted the chance.
“Over winter break, I went back home, and they had three futures, or pro circuit tournaments. The HKTA had three in Hong Kong. During that break, they looked at our results and decided who would be going. I did well in the fall season at Tech, and going back home to play the futures, I was confident. I knew I would have a good shot, and I did pretty well during those three weeks, so after that, I was told that I would be going,” Li said.
On Feb. 3, Li played in the second match of the second-round Asia/Oceania Zone Group II playoff tie against Vietnam. His opponent was former Wimbledon Boys’ Doubles champion Ly Hoang Nam. Asked how he approached the high pressure of the Davis Cup along with competing against top level competition, Li said he was unfazed.
“The pressure? I started off a little bit nervous, which I guess was expected, but the crowds there aren’t as brutal as college crowds, so it wasn’t very tough to get used to it. We did some research on the guy I was playing, but we’ve basically grown up playing against them as juniors, so we know them pretty well,” Li said.
Li did not get the result he wanted, losing 1-6, 2-6, 4-6. Despite this, he believes that being surrounded by different individuals and gaining unique perspectives about the game was an invaluable experience. Two of Li’s teammates are 18 and 21 years old, while another is 30 years old. His teammates guided him to make sure that the finer aspects of his game were preserved.
“One of the guys on my team used to be my coach, so he helped me with the small things like making sure I was getting the ball tossed higher so that my game continued to get better,” Li said.
The No. 85 Hong Kong team was ultimately able to pull off the upset against No. 57 Vietnam, propelling them to a stage of the Davis Cup that they have not reached since 2006. Up next is a fixture in the second round of Asia/Oceania Zone Group II play against Pakistan from April 7-9. Li would enjoy the opportunity to represent his country, but his focus is firmly on the Jackets’ season to come.
“It would be huge, but I don’t know if I would be able to do it because that is when our season really picks up. I think we’re playing Wake Forest that week, so I don’t think it would be a good idea for me to leave the team. Also, the next round will be on grass, and I’ve never played on grass before,” Li said.
Moving forward, Li has goals he is working hard to fulfill, for himself, for the Institute and for Hong Kong.