Trending on Tennis: Wu Yibing’s Dallas Open win can change Chinese tennis


Credit: Alyssa Ao

WSPN’s Jeffery Zhang reflects on Daniil Medvedev’s losses at the French Open.

Jeffery Zhang

Since the beginning of professional tennis, China has never produced a male tennis player to win an ATP title. This changed on Sunday, February 12, when 23-year-old Wu Yibing became the first Chinese male player to win an ATP title. Wu’s win at the Dallas Open is monumental for China and could very well be the catalyst for future generations to come.

After saving four championship points in a grueling 3 hour long match, Wu toppled the 5th seeded John Isner to win the annual Dallas Open tournament. The tournament Wu won is only an ATP 250, the lowest tier of annual men’s tennis tournaments on the main ATP Tour, however it sets the pace for players like Wu.

Why is Wu’s win monumental? After all, he only won an ATP 250. The level of the tournament that Wu won is almost irrelevant if you look at the context behind his win. Tennis was developed over 200 years ago, and during those 200 years, none of the best Chinese male tennis players won major titles. It’s disappointing to see the bad performance in Chinese professional tennis.

Nevertheless, this lack of victory only makes Wu’s win at Dallas more monumental. Imagine playing a sport that your country, for over 200 years, has struggled to triumph in. Then, suddenly you become the first person in your country’s history to win a tournament in your sport. Pretty crazy right? Well there’s more. Not only do you become the first ever tournament winner in your country, but you reach a world tennis ranking of 58, the highest your country has ever been ranked. That’s exactly what Wu did, and that’s exactly why his win is so monumental. Wu’s win at Dallas however is only a stepping stone. I believe his win will guide the way for Chinese tennis in the future and perhaps even bring China out of their dark age of tennis.

I say this with no animosity, but China has been poor at tennis. To start, China has an incredibly small number of courts compared to other countries. China only has 30,000 tennis courts available to train their players, while the U.S. has around 250,000 tennis courts. Taking into account China’s massive size, their 30,000 courts is a measly amount.

Ignoring their lack of facilities, China also has less people who regularly play tennis compared to the U.S.. More than 23.6 million people played tennis in 2022 in the U.S., while only 14 million people were estimated to play tennis in China. Again, China’s massive population of almost 1.4 billion people compared to the amount of people who play tennis regularly is almost nothing.

The most important reason for China’s subpar tennis is the lack of a successful role model for young Chinese tennis players. A young athlete has much more hope and determination to pursue a sport professionally if they can see that others have done it before them from the same background. China didn’t have this. However, Wu can change this.

If Wu can show young Chinese tennis players that they have the potential to be great in tennis, maybe China will produce more professional tennis players. With more professional tennis players, perhaps China will eventually become a major powerhouse in the sport of tennis. But for now, Wu’s historic win at the Dallas Open can only do so much. The rest is up to future generations of Chinese tennis players.