Hard-Worker Tseng Aiming To Make Long-Term Mark
Asia has a new star in the making. His name? Chun-Hsin Tseng.
The #NextGenATP player from Chinese Taipei has soared to new heights over the past year, capturing three ATP Challenger Tour titles, including two this season. That has helped propel him to a career-high No. 83 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.
Through a combination of hard work and natural talent, Tseng is now enjoying success around the world on a weekly basis. However, the road to the top has been far from easy, with the 21-year-old negotiating a series of obstacles to get to this point.
“In the beginning, it was tough, because we didn't know anybody to play with [in Chinese Taipei],” Tseng admitted. “I learned to play in school. But the [National] Federation helped me to meet coaches and visit academies and clubs and I began to travel more and more. I went to an academy for three months every year during summer vacation. It was getting better and better, and then, when I was 13, I won the Les Petits As junior tournament and the Mouratoglou Academy found me and I trained there for four years.”
Tseng first picked up a racquet aged five, when he played with his father, Yu Te (known as Ed), at local courts in Chinese Taipei. With opportunities limited, the 21-year-old had to lean on the support of his parents, both of whom worked hard and made sacrifices to help their son achieve his dreams.
“My mom and my father owned a food stand at the Lehua night market in Taipei, selling a dessert made of fruit and sugar. My mom was still doing the night market when I started my career and it was really difficult for her to do it alone,” Tseng recalled. “It was so much work and took a lot of time. She was doing it from 5 p.m. to 12-1 a.m. When I was young, my brother and I helped there, but when I got older and was traveling, there was no chance to do both.”
With Tseng’s mother helping provide for him and his family off the court, it was the World No. 83’s father who supported Tseng on it.
“My father is my biggest influence. There was one time when I picked up the racquet myself and hit the ball over the net, and he was so surprised. He slowly began taking me to the courts every day and we played more and more,” Tseng said. “Now, my father travels with me and is always by my side.”
Having established himself in the Mouratoglou Academy by the age of 17, Tseng began to take his first major steps into the game, making his ATP Challenger Tour debut in 2018 on home soil in Taipei.
The results quickly followed at Futures level, with Tseng capturing three Futures titles in 2018. His results left him inside the Top 500, before he went 60-42 across all levels in 2019 and 2020 to leave him inside the Top 300.
However, the route to the top is never simple and so it proved for Tseng, who struggled to find his consistent best in 2021, prompting him to make a change.
“In October and November 2021, I was very down on myself,” Tseng admitted. “I played four weeks in a row and lost every match with at least two match points. I was struggling with my ranking too. I was around 280 [in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings] for two years already. But I changed my coach in October, to Benny (Benjamin Ebrahimzadeh), who was the head coach at the Mouratoglou Academy.
“He was with me before and we started again in October at his new academy in Germany. From there, my game was getting better and I felt more comfortable on the court. I was more aggressive and relaxed and we did a short training to prepare for the last two tournaments of the year in Maia, Portugal. That's where I won my first Challenger title. If you don't have an obstacle or a difficult time, you don't know how it feels. It helped me to know myself better on the court and off the court. It was a very important period.”
With confidence and momentum restored, Tseng has pushed on in 2022. The 20-year-old is currently eighth in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Milan and looks on course to make his debut at the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals in November if he can continue to perform strongly.
He feels the experiences he has had throughout the season have put him in good stead to continue his progression in the coming months.
“After my first title in a Challenger in Maia, I believed that I could do something on the Tour and I started to know my game better and use my weapons better,” Tseng said when discussing his game. “I found my rhythm and I knew that I could break through. This Challenger I will remember the most, because it helped my confidence when I was really down, and that was very important mentally.
“I was happy to get the wild card to the  Australian Open, but I had COVID right before and did seven days quarantine before my match. That was not so good an experience for the first time in the main draw of a Grand Slam. But I enjoyed the atmosphere there. And I was happy to win my next tournament at the Challenger in India [in Bengaluru]. I believed in myself that I could do it, and on the clay too, when I won in Murcia in Spain. I didn't expect this, but I just work as hard as I can and do my best on the court.”
With Tseng eyeing main draw appearances at tour-level events in the future, he looks set to follow in the footsteps of Japan’s Kei Nishikori and become a consistent presence for Asian tennis on the Tour for years to come.
Get to Know Tseng
Tennis Idol: Kei Nishikori. Both of us are Asian and he's one of the best players in Asia. And I think we have a very similar playing style. When I was young, I really looked to be like him and to play like him.
Hobbies: During COVID, before the tournaments started again, I tried to learn piano. I like the music and my mom has a very good friend who is a piano teacher. She said that if I don't want to play tennis, that I would be a very good piano player. I learned for only seven days and I could already play a song, so I'm not bad.
Favourite Food: In Taiwan, the food is amazing and so cheap. If you want different styles, we have everything. Hot pot is my favourite. It's a hot soup with meat and vegetables inside. I like chicken curry too.
Biggest Passion Outside Tennis: I like every sport. Basketball, baseball, badminton, snooker, table tennis. I like baseball a lot. It is difficult to play, because you need 18 people, but I like to throw. I travel with a glove and I throw with [countryman] Tony Wu when we are together. The Rakuten baseball team in Taiwan is my favourite and Shohei Ohtani is my favourite athlete. The only sport I do not like is golf. I was terrible.
Invite Two Famous People To Dinner: Chinese singers Jay Chou and G.E.M. My favourite music is Chinese pop.