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Hofstra doubles team gets a chance to test skills against pros at New York Open

Shawn Jackson, Jason Pasion, and Ostap Kovalenko are

Shawn Jackson, Jason Pasion, and Ostap Kovalenko are members of the Hofstra men's doubles team. Credit: Newsday/Julia Elbaba

The Hofstra doubles team of Shawn Jackson and Ostap Kovalenko have been given a wild card into the New York Open this week at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum.

“It’s our support of college tennis and of the local college,” tournament director Peter Lebedevs said.

Sophomore Jackson was 27-11 in singles and 23-11 in doubles during the 2018-19 season. Kovalenko is a freshman from Russia and won two doubles matches last fall playing with Jackson.

Their opening match is against American Tennys Sandgren and Sweden’s Robert Lindstedt.

“It’s crazy,” said Jackson, who lives on Staten Island. “I just watched Tennys Sandgren play Roger Federer in the Australian Open a few weeks ago. They are amazing and it will be quite the experience.”

The duo is aware of the home crowd support they will get from the Long Island community, but they plan to have tunnel-vision when competing on the black courts.

“I will be thinking about forehands and backhands out there, nothing else,” Kovalenko said. “We will fight point by point and hope for a good outcome.”

Hofstra men’s coach Jason Pasion has been with the program for four years and believes the pair has earned this opportunity.

”I’m grateful the boys get to showcase our tennis program and what we are about,” Pasion said. “This is great for recruiting, Hofstra University and Long Island tennis.”

When it comes to a game plan, the doubles team knows they must serve well to be effective during Tuesday’s match.

“We need to focus on our service games because we will have control during those times,” Jackson said. “Breaking serve will definitely be difficult.”

No matter the outcome, the pair look forward to the match and already are enjoying the opportunity to play against seasoned touring pros.

“If you told me when I was younger that I would be playing in the main draw of the New York Open, I wouldn’t believe it,” Jackson said. “I am getting treated like a professional and that’s the dream.”

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