A shining new star has risen in the dark, silent sky that is the women’s tennis in Korea: high school senior Jang Su Jeong (18, Yangmyeong Girls’ High) is the bright new star.
On September 19, in the second round women’s singles match of the WTA KDB Korea Open at Olympic Park Tennis Center, Jang beat Ons Jabeur (Tunisia, ranked 184th) 2-1 (1-6, 6-4, 6-1), securing a come-from-behind win. Although Jang was defeated by Spain’s Arruabarrena at the singles quarterfinal match on the 20th, it was still good news to make Chuseok holiday much merrier.
Jang became the first WTA quarterfinalist in 7 years and 8 months since her current personal coach Cho Yoon Jeong (coach for Samsung Securities) had played the final at Canberra in January 2006. After this year’s tournament, Jang’s world ranking soared from 540th to 333rd.
Jang said in an interview with the Women’s News, “I didn't expect to come this far. Before the games began, I was in fact a bit worried about playing against world-class players or winning even a single game. However, the worries disappeared in an instant after the tournament started. I became confident and thought that with enough experience, I might actually go further.”
Jang has long been preparing for this moment. She began playing tennis when she was a 1st grader at Shinan Elementary School, with the support of her parents, who are also tennis-lovers. Jang began to show her potential when she, then a 6th grader, finished runner-up at the US 12s Junior Orange Bowl in 2007. She grew on to become a balanced, 167cm-tall middle school freshman who could easily compete against high school students in Korean junior title games. After years of rigorous training with Samsung Securities’ sponsorship, Jang finally shocked Korean tennis community in 2010 by reaching finals in Gimhae Women’s Challenger. Keeping up the good work, she became a quarterfinalist at Changwon Challenger and the finalist at Asia-Oceania Junior Championship the next year.
Kim Il Soon, manager for Samsung Securities tennis team, commented that “Jang’s forte is her steadiness and dedication. She is very committed to her training as well as to keeping her life in order. Despite young age, she is very ambitious and sharply focused on her goal.” He added, “She can be somewhat reserved from time to time, but this tournament was the chance to get over it. She's capable of using various tactics, so she'll surely become a bigger player once she builds strength and develops her main weapon."
Jang is also well aware of her weaknesses. "I need to sharpen my serve and gain muscle for more strength. My role model is Rafael Nadal, a player known for the sheer mental toughness and diligence,” said Jang with resolution.
Her nearest goal is to join the top 200 in the global rankings. "I want a Grand Slam title in 5 to 6 years,” said Jang ambitiously. We surely wish her the best.