Chang looking to help Chinese Olympians

Former French Open winner Michael Chang believes he could help the Chinese tennis team increase their chances of winning medals at the 2008 Olympics if he were more involved in the set-up.

Former French Open winner Michael Chang believes he could help the Chinese tennis team increase their chances of winning medals at the 2008 Olympics if he were more involved in the set-up.

Chang, who became the youngest player to win a Grand Slam singles title when he captured the French Open as a 17-year-old in 1989, approached the Chinese Tennis Association (CTA) last year, expressing his willingness to coach the Chinese team in Beijing.

The 35-year-old Chinese-American has always spoken of his desire to improve the standard of tennis in China and, as well as having coached the country’s top-ranked female doubles player Peng Shuai until recently, has announced plans to set-up a tennis academy on the illustrious grounds of the Mission Hills Golf complex in Shenzhen.

Chang is confident that the quality of Chinese players could be improved if a number of slight changes were made to the way they are coached and stressed his belief that he could help develop the Olympic team if he was more involved.

“I don’t actually have any specific ties with the Olympic tennis team,” he said at the Mission Hills Golf Club on Friday. “My affiliation over this last year has been with just Peng (Shuai).

“As far as things to change, there are a lot of little things. There are things that could be implemented with regards to physical training methods, tennis style – like defence versus offence – and strategies that could be implemented.

“I think that if I was more heavily involved with the Olympic team it could be an opportunity for them to do well and possibly win multiple medals.

“It is no easy task for any country or any athlete to go out and win a bronze medal, silver medal or gold medal.

“But when it comes down to it, you prepare yourself as best you can so you are 100% off the court and when you go out there you play 100% on the court.”

Chang and Tenniel Chu, the executive director of Mission Hills, announced on Friday that the new tennis academy – to be named Mission Hills-Michael Chang Tennis Academy – would open next year.

And Chang admitted he hopes one day Mission Hills will be able to host an ATP or WTA event.

“I have often said that China is an incredible place for racket sports – ping pong, badminton, they are the best in the world and in tennis there shouldn’t be an exception to that,” he added.

“My priorities are with the tennis academy and I have been talking with Tenniel about the possibility of having a Champions Tournament here in Mission Hills or even a ATP or WTA Tour event, which would be very exciting.”

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