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19-Year-Old Chung Hyeon Is The First Korean To Win ‘Most Improved Player Of The Year’ Award From The Association Of Tennis Professionals

by Therese Agcopra / Nov 13, 2015 12:55 AM EST
Chung Hyeon is the first South Korea to be selected by ATP as the year's "most improved player". (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

19-year-old tennis player Chung Hyeon was hailed the Most Improved Player of the Year by the Association of Tennis Professions (ATP).

"The 19-year-old Korean climbed more than 120 places from No. 173 in the Emirates ATP Rankings at the start of the year, winning four titles on the ATP Challenger Tour in 2015. He also reached the Shenzhen quarterfinals and is currently at a career high of No. 51," the ATP said on Wednesday.

The South Korean tennis phenomenon climbed 130 spots from last year's ranking of 183.

Chung Hyeon started his 2015 season playing in a lot of Challenger events to up his rankings, Vavel reported Wednesday. At the beginning of the year, Chung was ranked 169 and wasn't qualified to play in most tour-level events even as a wildcard.

The youngster kicked off his season into high gear by taking home his first Challenger title for 2015 at the McDonald's Burnie International. His win catapulted him into the top 130 of the world rankings.

His first level win was at the Miami Open where he defeated Marcel Granollers. He later succumbed to Czech Republic's Tomas Berdych in two sets. His second tour-level victory was in Houston, Texas after going head-to-head with Facundo Arguello.

Chung comes from a family of tennis players, which is how he got into the sport.

"My father would always just tell me to do my best and to enjoy playing," he told Korea Times. "I've faced my brother in a couple of matches, which felt weird. But once the game got started, I felt this determination to win."

He became a full-time professional player in 2014, and gave South Korea a first-place finish at the Incheon Asian Games men's double tournament.

He entered his first Grand Slam main draw in Wimbledon this June, but lost to Pierre-Hugues Herbert from France. He bounced back with a first-round win against James Duckworth at the U.S. Open in September.

Chung is the first South Korea to win the ATP award, joining the ranks of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Andre Agassi and Marat Safin.

My ultimate goal is to stand on a podium after winning at a Grand Slam event," Chung said. "But I also want to become a player who earns the respect he receives. And I hope to face all the top players at least once each throughout my tennis career."

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