When Katherine Hui attends Stanford this fall, she’ll have quite the tale of how she spent her summer. Few can top Hui’s story of winning the U.S. Open girls’ singles tennis title.
“It’s so inspiring and motivating because there have been so many great players who have won it,” said Hui, a Santa Fe Christian graduate. “That was definitely a confidence boost for me.”
There are green chutes surrounding Hui as she climbs the tennis ladder. She stopped by last week’s Cymbiotika San Diego Open to talk of her victory and mingle with the top-shelf players.
One day, Hui aims to be among them after she started chasing the yellow fuzzy ball at age 4.
“I didn’t really know I wanted to play professionally until I was 13, 14,” Hui said.
By then, Hui was collecting trophies like others her age collected followers on social media. While Hui has her sights on playing for dough, she shows her true colors when someone mentions Stanford.
Just don’t pinch Hui after bringing up her university of choice.
“Stanford’s been my dream school since I was little,” she said. “I always had it in mind to at least go to college for a year or two as a steppingstone, to have that in my back pocket.”
That was her folks’ goal too.
“My parents are really supportive of that,” Hui, 18, said. “They want me to get an education, the experience. Stanford’s tennis program is just amazing.”
The same could be said of Katherine Hui when she rolled through the six-match junior draw at the U.S. Open in New York. She didn’t drop a set en route to the championship, although there were some scratchy moments triumphing over the Czech Republic’s Tereza Valentove, 6-4, 6-4.
Hui, who leans on a steady baseline game and her reliable serves, squandered six match points before putting Valentove away.
“I think I did get some nerves,” Hui said afterward. “Obviously I have never been in the final of a junior slam.”
Before closing the door on her celebrated run through the juniors, Hui exited with gusto.
“It was my last junior tournament, so I really wanted to make the best of it,” she said. “I knew she was going to come out and fight, and I knew that I was capable of it as long as I trusted myself.”
Hui’s father, Yan, had faith that his daughter would shine. He didn’t fathom, though, that she would be the last junior girl standing.
“I didn’t have expectations that she would do this,” he said. “This is not easy.”
Something worthwhile never is and Hui appreciates her achievements. Not only is she an ace with her game, but she’s also been honored by the U.S. Tennis Association for her unrelenting sportsmanship.
Often it seems Hui cares more about her opponent’s well-being than her own.
“While the sport is so competitive, you can still have success while also showing respect for your opponent,” she said. “There’s a balance between the two and there’s not just one or the other.”
That outlook will come in handy when juggling her time with the academic and athletic workload at Stanford. It says here that Hui will handle both like a pro.
Wait, she’s not one of those yet, but that day will soon come.
“Do well in college and keep improving my game,” Hui said. “Then if everything goes well, to play professionally afterwards.”
She got a taste of the pro life when awarded a wild card entry into the U.S. Open. She fell in the first round to veteran Canadian Genie Bouchard, 6-2, 6-3.
Hui proved she had the shots to compete while her dad took a shot for his scrapbook. When Spain’s Carlos Alavarez, the defending Wimbledon champion, made his way through the players’ area, the elder Hui sprung into action.
“My dad took a picture with him,” Hui said. “I was literally going to pass out. I was in awe because he is just amazing.”
Hui had an equally exciting summer, one that she won’t forget and that has others remembering her name.
“I think I was in shock a little bit,” Hui said. “I was really happy.”
Now it’s back to school and an immersion in college tennis. It’s predicted she will excel at both.