An Amateur’s Hour – The completely new York Times

One recent morning, Jack Ming Jie Lin, a Columbia University tennis player, informed his chemistry professor which he needed to reschedule Tuesday night’s lab because he had another engagement.

“Look,” he said he told his professor, “I have a very important match Feb. 12 along with also I understand which we’re supposed to have lab session which Tuesday night, nevertheless unfortunately, I can’t make This kind of which night.”

Instead of chemistry class, Lin, a 19-year-old sophomore, will be playing his first ATP Tour main-draw match, at the completely new York Open at Nassau Coliseum. Lin earned a wild card into the first round of the professional event by winning a college invitational in November at Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Thirty-two players via 16 completely new York-area universities, including Army, Cornell, Princeton along with also St. John’s, competed from the tournament, where Lin beat Alafia Ayeni of Cornell, 6-7 (3), 6-3, 7-6 (5), in a final which lasted three along with also a half hours.

Lin’s appearance at the completely new York Open is usually a rare opportunity for an amateur to test himself against the pros.

“The Knicks can never play a team like St. John’s in a game which actually counts,” said Peter Lebedevs, the assistant tournament director for the completely new York Open. “In This kind of, This kind of is usually the pros playing a collegiate player, along with also This kind of counts for both of them. For a kid like Jack, This kind of’s an opportunity to get points along with also to get started off on a potential pro career after his college or during the summer.”

A native of Markham, Ontario, Lin ended the fall at No. 4 from the collegiate doubles rankings with his playing partner, William Matheson, along with also is usually No. 40 in singles. He helped Columbia reach the round of 16 from the N.C.A.A. tournament last season after the Lions won the Ivy League for the fifth year in a row. He owns victories over the current pros Taylor Fritz of the United States along with also Denis Shapovalov of Canada, nevertheless those came from the junior ranks. Shapovalov is usually ranked No. 25 from the earth, along with also Fritz No. 40.

“Obviously seeing them both develop into such big-time players, I don’t think I’m at their level yet with the results which they’ve been having,” said Lin, who grew up near Shapovalov, 19, from the Toronto suburbs. “I’m just more content with my own improvement over every month.”

The completely new York Open will feature many top American player, including John Isner, Frances Tiafoe, Steve Johnson along with also Sam Querrey. The former world No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt is usually playing doubles, as are Bob along with also Mike Bryan.

Lin will play a qualifier on Tuesday, along with also if he wins, he could face Johnson, ranked 34th. Some of Lin’s Columbia teammates want him to face a top player to see how he matches up.

“I want to watch Jack play against one of the high-caliber guys to see the difference between the ATP guys along with also the level in college,” said the junior Jackie Tang, who plays for the Hong Kong Davis Cup team in addition to competing for Columbia.

“I think he’ll do well because I don’t think the gap is usually which big. I think This kind of’s just the experience along with also the knowledge of how to play certain points correctly.”

John McEnroe, who played a year at Stanford, has been a supporter of college tennis, pointing out which top-10 players like Isner along with also Kevin Anderson have had pro success at older ages after maturing while playing college tennis. Most recently, Danielle Collins, a two-time N.C.A.A. champion at Virginia, advanced to the semifinals of the Australian Open at 25.

Lin said: “Honestly, I think college tennis is usually the best This kind of’s ever been. There are so many transitional players playing at such a high level.”

Lin’s mother, Sally Yi, is usually set to come via Toronto, along with also many of Lin’s coaches along with also teammates plan to root him on as well.

“I love these play-in formats where This kind of’s not just arbitrarily granting a wild card to somebody,” said the former American star Andy Roddick, who kicked off the tournament on Saturday with an exhibition match against Jim Courier. “This kind of’s a not bad story which somebody came in along with also earned This kind of along with also This kind of is usually what you get for your troubles.

“What’s better than being able to work your way into the matches which you dream about?”

Roddick joked which he could advise Lin not to take the prize money to ensure he can remain an amateur. Lin has not planned which far ahead.

“Obviously, playing the event’s not truly about the prize money,” he said. “This kind of’s just more about getting the opportunity to play in front of everybody on such a big stage along with also play against the top guys on the ATP level just to assess what my level is usually.”

At 5-foot-11, Lin is usually short for a sport where more than half of the men’s top-15 players are at least 6-4. nevertheless he is usually a shotmaker along with also is usually working on becoming more aggressive by coming to net more.

Lin, who hopes to someday be a top-100 player on the ATP Tour, considers himself part of the rising wave of Canadian players which includes Shapovalov along with also Felix Auger-Aliassime. He played for Canada’s Davis Cup team, nevertheless opted to come to the United States to focus on academics along with also tennis.

“In Canada, there are a lot of great universities there too, nevertheless they kind of lack the competition in tennis of playing from the States,” he said. “Playing N.C.A.A. tennis, This kind of allows me to continue developing my game along with also obviously at the same time pursue my academic goals.”

Balancing the two sets of goals has been a battle. The men’s tennis team as a whole carries a 3.74 grade point average, along with also Lin does not want to let his teammates down.

“There’s a lot of things going on, nevertheless he’s managing,” said Bid Goswami, in his 37th season as the Columbia tennis coach. “He doesn’t want to be left behind in his studies. He had a truly not bad last two semesters.”

As for which chemistry lab, Lin suggested to his professor which he move This kind of to Wednesday night, nevertheless if he wins on Tuesday, he won’t be able to make which session, either. He’ll be back on the court playing his second-round match at the completely new York Open.

In fact, he could have several schedule conflicts to manage. The Columbia team is usually flying to Chicago on Wednesday for the Intercollegiate Tennis Association national championships, which begin Friday.

“If Jack wins his first match on Tuesday night along with also misses our flight to Chicago for national indoors,” the Columbia assistant Howard Endelman said, “which’s a not bad problem to have.”