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TENNIS: Novi’s Tim Wang tops in the Midwest, claims Boys 16 title at Closed Championships

Novi's Tim Wang celebrates with his championship hardware after winning the Boys 16 singles title at the USTA Midwest Closed Championships Thursday in Indianapolis. (Photo contributed)

Novi’s Tim Wang headed into this past week’s USTA Midwest Closed Championships like many of the other contenders vying for a spot at the prestigious “Super Nationals” later this summer.

But unlike many of the other contenders, Wang exited the tournament as a champion, having defeated Austin Hussey of Edgewood, Kentucky, in the Boys 16 championship match Thursday morning. His 7-6 (3), 6-3 victory capped off a magical week of tennis which saw the Wildcats junior-to-be knock off seven highly-ranked players en route to the title.

“It honestly feels surreal to have won the Closed,” said Wang, the fifth seed in the draw. “I’ve won other big tournaments, but this one is by far my best accomplishment yet.”

CLICK HERE FOR JASON SCHMITT'S LATEST BLOG POST ABOUT THE MIDWEST CLOSED TOURNAMENTS.

The tournament opened up on Saturday, June 22. Wang won a match each day – including two on Wednesday – to reach Thursday’s final.

After opening up the tournament with a pair of wins over unseeded opponents, Wang began a five-match stretch of wins over seeded foes with his toughest win of the tournament, a three-setter over No. 21-seeded Tony Leto of Downers Grove, Illinois on Monday. Wang trailed 3-5, Love-40, in the third set. He came back, saving six match points in the game, and went on to win in a tiebreaker. The next day, he beat the 16-seed, Gianni Ross of Burr Ridge, Illinois.

On Wednesday, he beat top-seeded John McNally of Cincinnati, 7-6 (5), 1-6, 6-2, before besting Alex Ross of Burr Ridge, Illinois, and then Hussey.

“Basically I never thought I could win it all. But I felt like each match I played I could win, so before I knew it, I won the whole thing,” Wang said. “It's just so hard for me to believe though.”

Winning the Midwest Closed is a big challenge. The field of 128 players consists of some of the best players from Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin and Illinois. The competitors had to qualify for the Closed through local district tournaments. Wang said he was well prepared by his coach (Grant Asher) and trainer (Kirk Vickers) entering the tournament, both mentally and physically.

“Kirk asked me after a training session on Saturday the week before, ‘Tim why don't you just win this thing?’ And then I thought, ‘Yeah, why not?’ There wasn't one single player in the draw that could totally dominate me,” Wang said.

“Grant also inspired me in the same way. We hit before I left for Indiana and we had a good hitting session where I was starting to believe I could do it. Grant told me before we took off that this year would be my year, the year I finally brought back some silver from the Closed.”

With the tournament championship, Wang earned an automatic bid to play in the “Super Nationals” in Kalamazoo in early August. The top four in the main draw and the finalists in the back draw at the Midwest Closed earn automatic bids. It will be Wang’s first-ever appearance at the Super Nationals.

“This tournament definitely gives me a boost in confidence. It really opened up my mind to see what I could accomplish when I play my best tennis,” Wang said. “I don't really have many expectations, but if I just keep working hard and playing my game, I'm sure something good could happen and that I'll have a great time over there.”

Jason Schmitt covers tennis for The Oakland Press. Email him at jason.schmitt@oakpress.com, read his "In The Zone" blog here and follow our high school tennis coverage on Twitter @JasonESchmitt.

Last Updated: 6/28/2013 5:49:28 AM EST

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