Mercer Island Islanders boys tennis coach Ryan Pang always dreamed of competing in the International Tennis Federation Seniors World Team Championships.
Pang, who said he had wanted to make the team for seven years, finally got the opportunity to test his skills against some of the top competitors in the world. The 42-year-old Pang was part of a Men’s 40 & over team, which captured fifth place in the Trabert Cup in Miami. The competition, which took place from Oct. 21-26, is one of the highlights of Pang’s tennis career.
“I wasn’t even expecting to make the team. I got a call about six weeks before saying that they just had someone who is pulling out and they asked if I would be interested in taking his place. I was like heck yeah. I was thrilled, obviously,” Pang said.
Pang had just wrapped up the fall season coaching the Islanders boys tennis team to another undefeated season in KingCo league play.
“I had just spent the last couple of months focusing on the high school boys tennis season. It was the perfect time to do it (compete in Miami) because I was mentally fresh and hadn’t really been training that much. As soon as KingCo (tournament) ended, that is when I had to leave for Miami. It was perfect timing,” Pang said.
Pang said he played doubles for the majority of the tournament.
“For me personally, I like playing doubles because I can move really well. We also got to play on clay, which is one of my favorite surfaces to play on,” Pang explained. “It is interesting because everybody there was 40 and over. There was some big dudes there who were good players but some of them were slow once you got them moving one way, then if you hit it in the other direction it really worked and helped me quite a bit. I was able to move around and change directions even though the footing wasn’t that great.”
Pang described in detail the benefits and pitfalls of playing on a clay surface as opposed to a grass court or a hard court.
“I love playing on clay. When the ball bounces, it just sits there and allows you to track down a lot of shots. It is easier on your body, too, because it is such a soft surface. You can jump up and run around and there is no heavy banging that you would receive on other surfaces,” Pang said.
While Pang said he came into tournament fresh, he still had been active in the months prior to his arrival in Miami.
“I practice with the boys varsity team during the season. Most of them are pretty good so it’s really good practice for me, actually. If I don’t try hard against them, they could beat me. I also do the warmups, jogging and stretching with them so that helps. I’m able to stay in shape,” he said.