Q & A With Venise Chan

Jan. 17, 2008

Venise Chan as a freshman in college has already done more traveling than most people will do in their entire lives. A top junior tennis player in Hong Kong, Chan gained a wealth of international experience, playing in all four of the junior majors. Her travels brought her to Washington, where she won the Husky Invitational in the fall and will likely man the No. 1 singles spot when the women open dual play this weekend. The Huskies are heading to Hawaii to play Sacramento State on Saturday and Hawaii on Sunday.

With the start of the dual season just days away, GoHuskies.com chatted with Chan about her route to Washington and the contrasts between Hong Kong and Seattle.

GoHuskies.com: You are from Hong Kong. Had you always lived there up until now?
Venise Chan:
'I lived my whole life in Hong Kong, but travelled all around the world for tennis. I started playing tennis when I was young. My father would be hitting with my older sister, but she wasn't that interested. He saw that I was more interested so started hitting more with me. Then I started playing tournaments. I went to school in normal schools until high school in Hong Kong, but then transferred to an online high school for the last three years before coming here.'

GH: Was it the case where you saw your sister doing something so you wanted to do it too?
'I saw her playing and I was running around picking up tennis balls and my dad figured out I may just as well start playing.'

GH: Did your dad play very seriously or just for fun?
'My dad just wanted us to do some sort of sport. He played tennis himself but not a lot. Just for fun.'

GH: When did you first learn English?
'Hong Kong was a British colony and that's why everyone speaks English more than other parts of China. It's my second language. I started learning it in elementary school.'

GH: Can you talk a little bit about what life in such a huge city like Hong Kong is like?
'It's a busy lifestyle. Just walking on the street is very different than here because here there is almost no one on the street, but in Hong Kong there are a lot no matter what time or where there are lots of people. People are always in a hurry going to work.'

GH: You got to play in all the junior major tournaments. What was that experience like? Did you have a favorite?
'I liked the atmosphere in Wimbledon because it's kind of classical. Everyone wears white. But my favorites were probably the U.S. Open and Australian Open, because I won matches there for one thing, and it's hard court which is my favorite type of court. It's amazing because you can be playing a tournament with the pros and you get to play with crowds watching.'

GH: Did you get a chance to meet many pros?
'At the French Open we have the same locker rooms so I could see them everywhere. I saw Nadal and Roddick in the player lounge.'

GH: What was the travel like for those tournaments?
'At first I went with my dad. He traveled with me the first few times. But most of the time I traveled with coaches and other Hong Kong teammates. Travel was tough because before I started online high school I had to deal with both school and tennis. It's similar to here but in those days I traveled a lot more and you have to know time management really well.'

GH: At what point did you think there was more of a future with tennis? How long did your father coach you?
'He didn't really coach me, but he introduced tennis to me and started me playing it. Then I started joining some programs and then joined the tennis association for fun, and then started playing small tournaments and age group tournaments.'

GH: So then from there how did you end up at Washington? When did you decide you wanted to go to college in the States?
'I've always wanted to go to college, and here they have the student-athletes, which I think is the best. At Hong Kong schools the focus is different and they don't have the best facilities. So I wanted to get my degree and play tennis and this seemed like the best place to do that.'

GH: How did you first come in contact with Jill (Hultquist)?
'Jill was there when I was playing my match at the US Open and we melded. I decided to go to Washington because first I know it's a great school and I liked the campus and the tennis team.'

GH: So how is the weather different here than what you're used to?
'The weather here even when it's raining, the air is dry. Hong Kong is hot and humid and the weather here lets us practice more indoors which you never do in China. On one hand it's good to practice in Hong Kong because you get a good workout playing in tough weather and it makes you tougher. But here I don't sweat as much compared to Hong Kong and it's nice not having to face the sun.'

GH: Now nothing is set yet but it seems like there's a strong chance you'll be playing some No. 1 singles this year. If that happens, what are your thoughts on playing No. 1 in the Pac-10?
'I think it's actually good for me. If I can be at the top of the lineup then I can play against the best players and it's good experience for me. I'm not feeling any pressure. I'm just going to try my best and each match will be tough but then I learn something each match.'

GH: Is there a difference in the tennis here and back at home?
'I'm used to tennis matches and tournaments playing as an individual. You win and it's your game, you have to win it, everyone's your enemies. Coming here it's really different because everyone's playing as a team, and everyone's supporting me. So it's an experience I'm going to need to get used to, but I think playing on a team is definitely better. You don't feel as tense.'

GH: What about the style of play? Any difference there?
'I think the biggest difference is the players here have better serves in general.'

GH: What are your thoughts on getting the season started in Hawai'i this weekend?
'I'm really excited since it's my first dual matches. We've worked really hard the last quarter and hopefully it will pay off for us.'

GH: Let's hope so! Good luck.
'Thank you.'

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