Brian Shi started dreaming about being a professional tennis player as a child. The 19-year-old from Jericho has a ways to go before realizing that dream, but he’s going to get a taste of it Tuesday night when he plays Cameron Norrie in the New York Open.
Shi, a Harvard freshman, earned a wild card into the ATP 250 tournament at NYCB LIve’s Nassau Coliseum by winning the event’s college qualifying tournament at the National Tennis Center in January.
“I traveled the ITF circuit, I was home-schooled, the whole thing,” he said of the pathway he chose to pursue the pro game. He did not play high school tennis, opting to test himself against the best junior players nationally and globally. Among the top juniors he faced was Canadian Denis Shapovalov and Northport’s Cannon Kingsley who plays for Ohio State.
“As long as I put in 100 percent effort I’m pretty happy with whatever happens. I am pretty proud of my junior ranking (which reached 62) and I was able to play in the (2017) U.S. Open juniors main draw, which was awesome, a great experience. But this beats everything.”
He’ll be facing rising-prospect Norrie, a 24-year-old from England who is ranked 59th in the world and was the No. 1 college player in the United States in 2017 while playing for TCU.
“I’m so excited to go up against a player of his caliber,” Shi said. “And to play in front of my friends and family 10 minutes from where I grew up is amazing.”
Shi will be looking to bring his aggressive game into play. “Definitely my service is a big strength,” he said. “I like to play a very aggressive game, taking control of the points and not letting people dictate me.”
Tennis is a long-term goal for Shi, but he’s also focused on a college degree in economics.
“Definitely plan on finishing college then definitely plan on playing a bit after school, take it from there and see what happens,” he said.