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Hofstra's Shawn Jackson and Ostap Kovalenko get a taste of pro doubles competition

Hofstra University's doubles team of Shawn Jackson, left,

Hofstra University's doubles team of Shawn Jackson, left, and Ostap Kovalenko react during their doubles match against Tennys Sandgren and Robert Lindstedt during the first round of the NY Open Tennis Tournament at NYCB Live's Nassau Coliseum on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

The score line did not quite reflect just how competitive the college guys were against the pros Tuesday in the New York Open.

Though the Hofstra doubles team of Shawn Jackson and Ostap Kovalenko lost, 6-1, 6-0, to American Tennys Sandgren and Sweden’s Robert Lindstedt in the first round at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum, Jackson and Kovalenko drew some confidence from getting to deuce six times.

“In those moments, we thought we could win the game,” Jackson said. “It was hard because they could turn it up at any point. Even if the score was tight, they were able to come up with the better shot or we missed from being tight.”

After all, Sandgren and Lindstedt play on the ATP Tour. Jackson and Kovalenko are amateurs, and young amateurs at that. Jackson, a sophomore, went 27-11 in singles and 23-11 in doubles during the 2018-19 season, and plans on going into medicine once his college eligibility runs out.

“I’m small for the game,” said Jackson, who stands 5-8. “Having an injury is a high risk and I want to have a Plan B. Being a doctor is my passion and that’s what I want to do.”

Kovalenko, a freshman from Russia who won two doubles matches last fall playing with Jackson, would like to become a full-time pro tennis player after he graduates.

“I will start at the futures level to try to improve my professional ranking,” Kovalenko said. “I actually thought about it a few days ago and I want to compete over the summer.”

Hofstra men’s coach Jason Pasion was happy with the duo’s performance. An opportunity and atmosphere like this was one he wanted his program to be able to capitalize on.

“When we got the wild card, the boys didn’t believe me,” Pasion said. “We don’t know when we will get this chance again and needed to maximize the experience and have it be something we could remember for the rest of our lives.”

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