God of Tennis - Chapter 15.1
Chapter 15.1: Choices
Without being given any time to celebrate his victory over the Andong Futures tournament, Han Woo Jin quickly returned to NK company. Breaks were considered a luxury for newbies.
Furthermore, during the season, tennis players usually followed their strict schedules without any time for rest. That’s why players had to sparingly exercise to conserve their physical energy.
The next day, Han Woo Jin met Coach Jeon Sang Shik at the company.
Coach Jeon’s face showed that he was frowning. Han Woo Jin noticed that he was in a bad mood because of his past life experience.
“Good, you’re here. Sit there.”
Coach Jeon rolled up the newspaper that he was reading and he pointed it at the couch. Han Woo Jin wordlessly and swiftly went over.
Coach Jeon was silent for a while before suddenly let out a sigh. He changed his expression and began talking. He didn’t want to show his bad mood to a player who had just come back with a victory.
“You’ve worked hard. Think of this tournament win as a success for you.”
It was a simple compliment but he noticed that he was sincere. He was quite good at scolding players, but he was always shy about complimenting the players.
However, what he said wasn’t wrong. The futures tournaments were the lowest level tournaments in the ATP. There were little ranking points to be earned and small prize money.
As a rookie, one had to have good results in futures tournaments to increase one’s rank.
“I wanted to inform you about your futures schedule but I need to tell you something first…”
“What is it?”
Han Woo Jin looked at Coach Jeon curiously and he gave him the sports newspaper. He saw the name of the newspaper. Daehan Sports.
Han Woo Jin thought about Reporter Kim Sang Pil’s face as soon as he saw it and he shook his head unconsciously.
Reporter Kim Sang Pil was the type that he couldn’t get close with. His eyes were like a snake looking at its prey and you could feel his gaze under your skin.
Han Woo Jin just looked at the newspaper and Coach Jeon shook it at him. He wordlessly took the newspaper and opened it. He didn’t need to be told what he needed to read.
He saw two large pictures on the front page.
“… at least the pictures look nice.”
Han Woo Jin was unconsciously impressed. Reporter Kim Sang Pil took a picture of him without his consent, but it was a good picture. With this one picture he found out that Kim Sang Pil had good skills.
On the right, Choi Yeon Hyuk looked cool-headed while shaking his hand whereas Han Woo Jin, who was on the left, looked kind of angry.
It was a report about the two players’ future dreams. Han Woo Jin didn’t know why Coach Jeon frowned upon seeing this news.
Han Woo Jin looked at him confused as to why he was upset. Coach Jeon looked at him and spoke.
“Ninth page. Look at the ninth page.”
Turning the first page, he read that there was an interview on the ninth page.
Without hesitating, he quickly flipped through the pages to page nine. He then saw the pictures of Choi Yeon Hyuk and himself sitting on chairs.
It looked like they were staring at each other. No matter who saw the picture, it was obvious that they looked as if they were rivals.
‘Kim Sang Pil, that person…’
Han Woo Jin didn’t speak much about Choi Yeon Hyuk during the interview.
He just spoke about when he started tennis, his experience during his junior years, and what he hoped to accomplish.
To think that Kim Sang Pil wrote a report like this with such little information. Anyway, it looked like Kim Sang Pil did the same thing with Choi Yeon Hyuk.
The report in the newspaper stated that the two players were both interested in each other. It was quite a good story about two star rookies who were rivals. That would attract people’s attention.
“You don’t talk that much.”
“I also didn’t talk that much during the interview. This Kim Sang Pil is a weird guy.”
“If it’s Kim Sang Pil then you’re right… Hooo.”
Coach Jeon knew about Kim Sang Pil and that he was a special reporter. Coach Jeon felt complicated about his thoughts and feelings.
It wasn’t bad that Kim Sang Pil was interested in these two. It was a good start because they were both written as star rookies.
‘It’s too early for them to be recognized as stars…’
The two players now finished their first tournaments as pros. If they received this much attention from the media, then their names will quickly spread but it will be easy for them to fall. There will be many bad rumors that will pop up and that might be bad for the players’ mental health.
Coach Jeon really wanted the two athletes to be good players, not stars. Therefore, he was worried about them.
Coach Jeon decided not to think about it anymore. He realized that even if thought about it a lot, it wouldn’t matter. The report had already come out so there was nothing he could do whether he thought about it or not.
He took the newspaper that Han Woo Jin was reading and threw it on his table. He felt annoyed thinking about Kim Sang Pil’s ugly face.
“Okay, I’m done with this newspaper, I’ll think about it later. I want to talk about your next tournament.”
“Has the next one already been decided?”
Once again, a tennis player’s schedule is very tight. For example, if a player finishes a final the day before, when they arrive back in Seoul the next day, they start practicing for the next one immediately.
When it came to world rankers, they applied to several tournaments. As soon as they failed one, they would immediately head over to the next tournament. That was their strategy.
Han Woo Jin wasn’t at that level to think about that, but it was not weird for his schedule to have already been decided for him. That was the life of a pro tennis player.
Yet he couldn’t understand the expression on Coach Jeon’s face. He seemed to be contemplating something, but he handed two papers to Han Woo Jin.
“You can choose one of them. The president told me to give you guys the option to choose.”
“Busan Open… and France!?”
Han Woo Jin’s eyes widened.
Metz, France. This was not the place for futures or challenger leagues. This place was one of the ATP tour series locations.
He looked at Coach Jeon curiously and Coach Jeon nodded, confirming his thoughts.
“That’s right, ATP 250 league.”
“Isn’t this… too early for us?”
Every tennis player had the desire to go up to the next level in their league, but if the level was too high they’d just fail and it would be totally shameful for them. Han Woo Jin felt perplexed.
Since he won one futures tournament, he earned 27 ATP points. With those points, he barely entered the top 700 world rankings. Yesterday he checked his rank and it was about 780.
With his current rank, he wasn’t even qualified to enter the tournament preliminaries.
“The president told me that there is no problem for you to enter the preliminaries. If you want it we can apply for you.”
It was one of the four countries that held a grand slam. Although this tournament wasn’t a grand slam, it would be quite meaningful to be able to play a tournament in France.
Han Woo Jin couldn’t calm down his beating heart. Could he play in a tournament like that this early?
He felt elated but Coach Jeon’s words brought him back down to earth. Coach Jeon was worried that Han Woo Jin would decide rashly because of his excitement and he put the A4 paper back in the envelope.
“Don’t decide today. Wait until your excitement from winning your tournament goes away and then decide. Don’t practice tomorrow and the day after, just rest. Alright?”
It was so simple to make him calm down with a few sentences. Han Woo Jin answered while trying to quell his excitement. However, his voice was still high-pitched.
Eventually, Coach Jeon clicked his tongue.
“Tsk, you’re excited over nothing. You can go now.”
Han Woo Jin looked at the other NK company players that were running around. He felt calm as he watched the rallies.
‘What should I do?’
He first thought of his agent, Shin Sae Yeon. But she wasn’t with him as she was off for the day. She might look like an iron man, but she was still a woman that was tired so he sent her home.
Even Han Woo Jin was tired. When he got out from the car, he almost fainted because of his exhaustion.
As he was sitting down, a racket tapped his shoulder.
The cold frame knocked on his body.
The man who was holding the racket looked like he was playing a game as he was sweating a lot. The sun was setting, and his figure was right in front of the sun, making him look very majestic. There was his tall body and always smiling face.
He put away his racket and spoke.
The two players congratulated each other and fist bumped. Choi Yeon Hyuk jumped over the bench and sat next to Han Woo Jin. Choi Yeon Hyuk was the first to ask him a question.
“What are you going to do?”
“I’m not sure.”
Challenger league or ATP 250 league.
It was a huge decision to make in a short period of time. Of course, if he went to the challenger league, it didn’t mean that he will definitely win. Even the challenger league had world rankers that attended it to rack up more points in the rankings.
However, it was a different story for ATP tours. At least five people who were in the top 100 world rankings would attend the ATP 250 tournaments.
The two players wordlessly stared at the court. The two players didn’t say anything as they listened to the sounds of the balls hitting the courts.
“France sounds good.”
“I know right.”
All Korean players dreamed about overseas leagues. Korea was a tennis wasteland.
People didn’t care about tennis as the tournaments were small and mediocre. Furthermore, the companies that sponsored the players gave the players harsh schedules. There were no other companies like NK company. What tennis player wouldn’t dream of playing overseas?
Choi Yeon Hyuk was the same as Han Woo Jin.
‘I guess I need to think about it some more.’
Their overseas expenses would all be paid for, so they didn’t need to hesitate about their funds. But could they challenge the ATP tour with their current skills?
Thinking carefully, Han Woo Jin’s excitement quickly toned down. At the same time, he felt a hint of skepticism.
Getting up from his seat, he spoke to Choi Yeon Hyuk.
“I’m going to need to think it over.”
“Yeah, see you later.”
The two players who had a lot to think about left their seats and parted ways. Han Woo Jin held the envelope that Coach Jeon had given him and left through the company doors. The cold evening air hit his face.
‘Let’s go home first.’
He had been at Jeju Island for almost a month.
Han Woo Jin quickly went home.