The odds were never quite in Cannon Kingsley’s favor. At 17, the Northport resident was the youngest competitor at the New York Open, a wild-card qualifier who found out he was playing only about a week ago. Sunday marked his first ATP tournament — he’s unranked with the association — and this was his first significant foray into the world of professional tennis.
But then he won his first game and his second, eventually gaining a significant advantage against Canadian Brayden Schnur. Kingsley’s small but mighty contingent of family and friends cheered around him, and for a moment, it seemed as if a little magic might just happen at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum.
It was a good moment for Kingsley, and though he eventually faltered, 7-6 (3), 6-3, it’s one he’s planning to recapture someday soon.
“I got a little too happy and I think I should have stayed a little more grounded, a little more focused, but that’s OK,” Kingsley said after pointing to the moment after he went up 4-1. “I feel definitely a lot more confident, I think. I’ll probably go watch some tape of the match later today and see what I did wrong and see what I can do better. Next time I’m out here, I’ll definitely improve.”
The last few months have been a whirlwind for Kingsley, who is slowly announcing himself in the professional tennis sphere. He’s the 14th-ranked junior in the world, and recently made it to the Australian Open quarterfinals in singles, and final in doubles — something that’s added significantly to his cachet. The next few months will be spent playing in the junior slams, working on his ATP points and ranking, and eventually going the college route. He’s set to attend Ohio State, and he put on some Buckeyes gear as soon as his match ended.
But in perhaps a less flashy way, Sunday also was a milestone. Kingsley was one of 16 qualifiers vying for four spots in the main draw Monday. There the competition should be formidable, with four of the top five Americans in the world all set to compete in the second New York Open (the top four players receive a bye into the second round).
In short, Kingsley is having his cup of coffee in the major leagues, but it looks like he might be ready for the whole pot soon enough.
“I think I was ready for it and I think I showed I could hang in with him,” he said.
Schnur, though, steadily wore down Kingsley, coming back up from the 4-1 hole. Kingsley went up 5-4 and again 6-5 on an ace before Schnur sent it to the tiebreak. The second set was a less tense affair, with Schnur capitalizing on his experience and momentum. Schnur is ATP-ranked 158th in the world.
“Definitely, the experience was really key,” Kingsley said. “Obviously, he was more experienced and he can deal with those [feelings] better when he’s up. In the second set, when he was up, he really closed the game out.”
Kingsley wasn’t the only local talent to come up short, with Long Island City’s Adam El Mihdawy also losing his qualifier to Christopher Eubanks, 6-3, 6-2.
Still, despite the tinge of disappointment, Kingsley couldn’t be too downtrodden. This was, after all, just step one.
“It was awesome,” he said. “This was my first ATP tournament, so I didn’t really have huge expectations, but I definitely thought I put my all out there.”