Jacobs boys tennis player Kerwin Chong won his third Fox Valley Conference tournament title in 2017. For the first time, he won the title in singles.
This one belonged solely to him.
Chong had previously won in the No. 2 doubles flight in 2015 and at No. 1 doubles in 2016. Both times he was paired with his older brother, Kendrick Chong, who graduated in 2016.
A junior in 2017, Kerwin rebounded from a first-set loss against Crystal Lake South’s Nick Thome to win the No. 1 singles flight in three sets. He helped the Golden Eagles take the FVC team title.
Chong also finished as runner-up in the IHSA Class 2A Huntley Sectional, losing to a buddy — Streamwood’s Christopher Veltkamp — who he trains with. He won his first match at the state finals before losing his next two.
For his accomplishments this season, Chong was named the Northwest Herald Boys Tennis Player of the Year.
Chong talked to the Northwest Herald about tennis, hidden talents, favorite foods and more.
What will you remember most about this season?
Chong: I’m going to miss my teammates who are leaving. I got to really bond with them this year. They’re like family to me.
What’s the biggest difference between playing doubles and singles?
Chong: In doubles, you have somebody there to grieve with when you lose and be happy with when you win — someone to talk to and plan with during a match. In singles, you’re on your own. You’ve got to only think of yourself. When you lose, you lose by yourself.
Was that an adjustment this year?
Chong: Yeah, it was an adjustment. I’ve been used to doubles at the high school level. It was different.
What was it like playing without your brother?
Chong: I missed him here and there because I always miss having someone pump me up next to me. Whenever he pumps me up, I get pumped up too. This year I only had myself to pump me up.
The biggest thing in doubles is chemistry and how you can cope when you’re losing.
Your brother never won Northwest Herald Boys Tennis Player of the Year. Did you brag about that?
Chong: No, I mean, I like to stay humble because I know there’s always people out there that are better than you and you’re always the one still learning.
What’s the most memorable match you had this season?
Chong: Probably my last match at state (a three-set loss to Glenbard West’s Christo Maltby) because it was a tough one, but it was also a big moment for me because I used to lose to him a lot, like 0-6, 0-6. This time it was a little closer. It went to three sets and I knew I could have won that match.
If you didn’t play tennis what sport would you play?
Chong: I would probably do cross country or track. I love running.
What’s your proudest sports moment?
Chong: When my brother and I played doubles, we played a really solid team, New Trier (in a regular season match). It was a tough match, but we gained respect from a top (tennis) school like that. Being able to talk to them and be acquainted with them and practice with them in the offseason.
Do you have any hidden talents?
Chong: I’m pretty musically inclined. I dance hip hop.
Who is your funniest teammate?
Chong: Kevin Burton. We always bring up past shows that we watched that were funny and he always brings them up in the worst of times. When I was down, he always says the funniest things.
If you could invite any three people to dinner, who would you invite?
Chong: Probably my brother, my mom and my dad.
What would be your perfect meal?
Chong: I really love my parents’ cooking. Filipino barbecue. It’s like pork, fish, vegetables and rice. And then to end it off with a banana or an apple. That would be my perfect meal.
What type of music are you into?
Chong: I’m into a lot. I range from lyrical to pop to rap.
What’s your favorite subject in school?
Chong: In junior year it was math class because I just understood everything. It’s all good knowing how to do those formulas and everything.
Who’s your favorite athlete to watch?
Chong: Tennis player Roger Federer because the way he plays is so effortless.
What’s you dream job?
Chong: I want to study dentistry in college and probably make it as a dentist or an orthodontist.