Shi Brian Shi made his professional debut at the New York Open and despite a 7-5, 6-3 loss to seventh seed Cameron Norrie, the Harvard sophomore impressed and spoke about a number of areas surrounding his pro debut, the future and the crowd support.
Shi talks about "amazing feeling" walking out on court for pro debut
Shi began his post-match press conference by describing what it felt like walking out on court: "It felt amazing. Coming on court, as soon as I saw my teammates and my parents, all the nerves went away. The atmosphere was amazing.
"I came out swinging, went up an early break, unfortunately I wasn't able to keep that lead. I had him in the first I think. Overall, it's an incredible experience even though I didn't get the win. Definitely a great learning experience for sure. It's going to give me way more motivation coming back to school to train harder for next time."
Shi said "I think I tried to stay committed to an aggressive game. I think towards the middle of the second set, I got a little tired, so I wasn't able to get my feet around the ball as much and I was causing a few more mistakes. I was very happy with how I came out, went for my shots, served well. Couldn't be happier."
"I tried to go for it" with forehand says Shi
The Harvard product was hitting his forehand well against Norrie, but says it's his weaker side. "Believe it or not I actually see my forehand as my weaker shot out of all of my groundstrokes. So you know going into the match I tried to go for it and have as much confidence as I can.
"You would think I was a little more aggressive with my forehand, but it did make a few more mistakes. Now I definitely have some work I need to get done and i'm very excited for what's to come ahead."
When asked what his thoughts were after being up a break in the first set, Shi stated "not much, honestly. When I go into all my matches, this match was no different. I just try to keep my head as empty as possible.
"Obviously there are some in the back of my mind like 'oh wow, I'm up a break against Cameron Norrie, this is frickin awesome'".
Shi reveals advice Blake gave to him, rest of Harvard team
James Blake is the most famous tennis professional from Harvard, but Shi said "I haven't had any personal contact with him. He actually FaceTimed the team a couple weeks ago prior to our season which was awesome. I think the best advice he gave and it's the same advice that i've heard from many good tennis players throughout the last few years and that's not to get too high when you're playing well.
"You're doing really well and then when you're not playing as well not to get too low to try and keep that equilibrium. That's how to stay motivated and not get discouraged when you're not doing well."
When asked if he had ever seen Norrie play before, Shi replied "everyone in this tournament i've seen on Tennis Channel and ESPN. Just seeing my name in the draw next to all these big-time players is surreal."
College Invitational win was great "confidence booster"
Shi reached the main draw via the Collegiate Wild Card tournament and said the experience he gained was invaluable. "Definitely, that was a big confidence booster for sure. So prior to this match I had two dual matches over the weekend, so I was a little tired from that.
"I've played a few matches since then (Wild Card Invitational). But for sure it gave me a ton of confidence coming in."
Asked what the difference between facing Norrie and a regular college dual match was, Shi said "so different, but it was a ton of fun, but not as fun as a dual match."
Shi talks about how overall experience at Harvard can help his tennis career
Shi concluded the press conference by pointing out how his studies at Harvard can help his tennis career going forward. "The biggest thing is the discipline", he said. "You know as a a athlete not just at Harvard but at any college, you have to balance playing tennis, balance schoolwork, balance social life also, so much on your plate.
"I think that stuff is what i've got out of being a student athlete in college."