It was a night of firsts for Jericho’s Brian Shi.
He held his serve and won his first ever ATP game to start his New York Open first-round match with Cameron Norrie. He earned his first ATP break of service in the next game. He got his first ATP service time violation in the fifth game and suffered his first ATP break of serve in the fifth.
In the second set he saved his first two ATP match points, but couldn’t save the third and fell to Norris, 7-5, 6-3, for his first ATP loss.
This very first loss in his very first pro event aside Shi, the amateur, certainly looked as if he belonged on the black stadium court at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum. He went for his serves, he ripped his forehands, he came to the net, he kept his poise.
“It felt amazing,” Shi said. “Coming out on the court as soon as I saw my teammates and my parents all the nerves went away. The atmosphere was amazing. I came out swinging. I had an early lead, I had him there I think, but unfortunately I couldn’t keep it.”
The 19-year-old Harvard sophomore earned a wild card into the tournament by winning the event’s college qualifier at the National Tennis Center in January.
Shi didn’t play high school tennis on Long Island, electing to go the ITF route to play the best juniors nationally and globally. He rose to No. 62 in the juniors rankings and made the main draw boys singles at the 2017 U.S. Open and the 2018 Australian Open.
Norrie, a 24-year-old from Great Britain who is ranked 59th in the world, was the No. 1 American college player in 2017 playing for Texas Christian University. Though he was born in Great Britain and plays under that flag, he grew up in New Zealand, where he started playing tennis in the family driveway.
With Shi off to a 3-0 lead in the first set, Norrie upped the pressure and by the finest of margins earned that break in the 11th game and held his serve to close it out. Norrie broke again in the fifth and ninth games of the second set for the match.
One shot by in particular stood out, and had Norrie coming to a standstill. In the eighth game of the first set Shi rocketed a return of Norrie’s first serve down the line for a wow moment winner. Norrie, coming to the net, was stopped in his tracks.
“I tried to keep committed to an aggressive game,” Shi said. “In the middle of the second set I was a little tired, couldn’t get my feet around the ball and it was causing mistakes, but I was very happy with the way I played.”
Notes & quotes: Brayden Schnur, the beaten finalist in last year’s New York Open, fell to Dominik Koepfer in the first round, 6-4, 6-3, and took a nasty fall in the second set but continued on. Since winning his first four ATP level matches at the New York Open last year, he has traveled around the world twice without winning another . . . The tournament’s top seeds begin play on Wednesday night. No. 2 seed Milos Raonic takes on Soonwoo Kwon in a not-before-7:30 match, followed by No. 4 seed Ugo Humbert facing Marcos Giron. On Thursday No. 1 seed John Isner will play Jordan Thompson and No. 3 seed and defending champion Reilly Opelka will face Yoshihito Nishioka.