Kevin Kung, CC ’11, arrives at his office in Hong Kong, where he works as a full-time trader at an investment bank, by 7 a.m. every weekday. He usually does not leave until 8 p.m. A former member of the Lions’ tennis team, Kung barely has time to devote to anything else.
But over the last month, Kung worked out and practiced tennis almost daily to prove that he was good enough to represent his home country, Hong Kong, on the international stage—earning one of four spots on Hong Kong’s roster for the Davis Cup, the premier international men’s team tennis competition.
“There were a lot of reservations to putting me on the team because I work a full time job and its got crazy hours, and they weren’t sure if I could be fully committed,” Kung said.
Once he had demonstrated his talent and dedication, Kung was not just added to the roster. He was given the opportunity to play the last match in Hong Kong’s round against Sri Lanka on Sunday, a match he won 7-5, 6-3.
In the Davis Cup, when two countries go head-to-head, there are five matches—one doubles match and four singles matches—and the winner is the first to win three.
When Kung took the court in Hong Kong’s Victoria Park on Sunday afternoon, Sri Lanka had already won three of the four previous matches, so his match would have no effect on the round’s outcome. But Kung still felt the high pressure caused by the international stage.
“The last time I played a real match in front of a crowd was who knows how long ago—it must have been in college,” he said. “I was so nervous.”
In the first set, those nerves got the better of Kung, as he quickly fell behind one break to his opponent, Sri Lanka’s Dineshkanthan Thangarajah.
But in the middle of the set, Kung took a moment to realize the unique opportunity that was slipping through his fingers.
“Davis Cup is supposed to be for full-time professionals who don’t do anything else except play tennis, and I’m not going to commit to that,” Kung said. “I just thought to myself, ‘I might never ever get a chance to be on this team again.’ So I told myself to go for shots, to enjoy the crowd, enjoy the match, enjoy representing my country.”
Down 5-4 while his opponent had a set point, Kung turned up his level of play and went on to win the next three games and take the set. After that, Kung was untouchable. For the first time in his life, he was confident in his serving, a feeling that carried him through the second set, which he won 6-3 to take the match for Hong Kong.
Soon after his victory, Kung called Light Blue head coach Bid Goswami, who was a member of India’s Davis Cup squad from 1974-1975.
“I was very happy for Kevin because he was very excited to represent his country,” Goswami said. “To be a member of a Davis Cup team is a great honor.”
Kung has been a part of Hong Kong’s Davis Cup training squad for the last six years, but this was the first time he had ever been given a spot on the official roster.
Current Lions junior Nate Gery and senior Rajeev Deb-Sen—who both played doubles with Kung—were also excited about their former teammate’s success.
“It’s impressive that he can keep up his training while working,” Deb-Sen wrote in an email. “I guess it’s something we all hope we can do after we graduate, so it’s nice to see that someone’s doing it at such a high level.”