Tennis star Kei Nishikori first Japanese man to reach the French Open quarter-finals since 1933

ESPN/ATP World Tour: 

Kei Nishikori became the first Japanese man in more than 80 years to reach the quarterfinals at the French Open as he breezed past Teymuraz Gabashvili of Russia 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 on Sunday.

The 25-year-old Japanese star has yet to drop a set in his four matches in Paris over the past week and is the first Japanese man to reach the quarter-finals since Jiro Satoh, a semi-finalist in 1931 and 1933.

Fifth seed Nishikori produced a string of 40 winners to beat the No. 74-ranked Teymuraz Gabashvili 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in one hour and 58 minutes. He will next challenge No. 14 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who defeated fourth seed Tomas Berdych in four sets.

I hope it’s just the start of my journey, and I hope I can keep going,” said Nishikori. “This is first time for me in the quarter-finals, so it means a lot for me.

“It always means a lot to make history. Especially for Japanese, Asian [players] the clay is not the best surface for us. Now I’m trying to make the new step. I hope I can keep going like this on clay courts.”

Nishikori has a 4-1 FedEx ATP Head2Head record against Tsonga. Their quarter-final clash will be their first clay-court meeting.

We haven’t played a long time,” said Nishikori, looking ahead to the Tsonga match. “He’s coming back very strong. He has a big serve [and] big forehand. He’s always a dangerous player… So it’s going to be fun match.”

Y-3 2015 Spring/Summer “Roland Garros” Collection



Head Porter (Japan) 2015 Spring “SHATI” Tennis Bags


Best Asian American athletes in 2014

Northwest Asian Weekly (By Jason Cruz)

It was another stellar year for API sports.

It started off with Doug Baldwin and the Seattle Seahawks bringing home the team’s first ever Super Bowl and a parade that seemingly the whole city of Seattle came to see.

The Winter Olympics were a bit of a disappointment for Asian Americans. Mirai Nagusa was denied making the U.S. women’s figure skating team despite making the top three.

J.R. Celski earned a Silver medal in the men’s Short Track 5000-meter relay but failed to medal in any of the three individual events he competed in.

Julie Chu, the first Asian American woman to play for the U.S. women’s ice hockey team ended her career with a Silver medal for the U.S. team. However, her quest for Gold was thwarted just three minutes before the end of the Gold Medal Game against Canada. With the U.S. up 2-0, Canada made a furious comeback and scored two goals in three minutes to send the game into overtime where Team Canada scored another goal for the Gold. Chu played in an unprecedented four Olympics and was the U.S. Olympic team’s Flag Bearer for the closing ceremonies.

In April, Manny Pacquiao returned to the ring and avenged a controversial loss to Tim Bradley by winning a convincing unanimous decision.

The World Cup was held in Brazil in June and the two Asian nations competing, South Korea and Japan, did not fare well. Both were eliminated in the first round of the tournament.

Also in June, Michelle Wie won her first major golf championship with a win at the U.S. Women’s Open. At the same tournament, 11-year-old Lucy Li became the youngest qualifier in the U.S. Women’s Open.

University of Washington men’s golf team member Cheng-Tsung Pan played in the British Open in July. The UW junior earned the spot by tying for second at a qualifying event in Thailand. This fall, Pan decided to turn pro.

The U.S. Tennis Open featured great runs by 24-year-old Japanese star Kei Nishikori and China’s Peng Shuai.

Nishikori, who was coached by Chinese American Michael Chang, made it all the way to the men’s final before losing to Milos Raonic.

Shuai made a surprising run to the semifinals where she had to retire (forfeit) due to continued leg cramps.

Absent from the women’s side of the tournament was Li Na who announced her retirement in September.

In October, Apolo Ohno finished the famed Ironman Triathlon in Kona, Hawaii.

November saw Manny Pacquiao’s return to the ring as he destroyed Chris Algieri. Pacquiao’s next opponent…Floyd Mayweather?

In December, the University of Oregon’s Marcus Mariota won the Heisman Trophy, college football’s biggest individual award.
Mariota becomes the first Asian Pacific Islander to win the trophy.

And without further ado, here are the top 10 API athletes of 2014:

10. Harley Kirsch

Kirsch, who is part Korean, was the quarterback for the Eastside Catholic High School team that defeated the vaunted Bellevue High School football team to win the Washington state class 3A football championship. Located in Sammamish, Washington, the school ended Bellevue’s 67 game winning streak. Kirsch is only a junior and will return next season to lead Eastside Catholic.

9. Amelia Andrilenas

The junior gymnast at Juanita High School qualified for the state meet and placed first, second, and fourth in all-around meets during the 2013-2014 season.

For the outsider, the most astonishing thing about the 4’11” gymnast is that she has only one hand. Andrilenas, who was adopted from China, took up gymnastics at an early age and has excelled since.

8. Jeremy Lin

Lin was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers this past offseason to complement Kobe Bryant. So far, Lin has not done much to help Kobe. He’s averaging just 10 points for the currently 9 win and 22 loss Lakers. He did score a season high 21 points in the Lakers’ first win. While he is far-removed from the days of New York and Linsanity, he still is a contributing member of the Lakers who hope to rebuild.

7. Tim Lincecum

It seems that every other year Lincecum and his San Francisco Giants seem to win a World Series. The Giants won baseball’s World Series this year making it three times in the past five years that the team has won the title. Lincecum, who is a Washington native and part Filipino, pitched his second-career no-hitter against the San Diego Padres in June. He also picked up his 100th career win this past September. Although Lincecum played sparingly in the World Series, he picks up his third ring.

6. Chloe Kim

At only 14, Kim was too young to compete in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics but the snowboarder did earn silver in the “superpipe” at this year’s Winter X Games. Look for the Korean American to make the next team in the 2018 Winter Olympics which are in her parents’ home country of South Korea.

5. Julie Chu

A pioneer in the field of women’s hockey as Chu was the first Asian American to be on the women’s team and the first to play in four Olympics. She also starred in a commercial with her mother shown during the Winter Olympics.

4. Mirai Nagusa

The 21-year-old Los Angeles native was denied a spot on the 2014 Winter Olympics women’s figure skating team despite winning the Bronze medal at the U.S. Championships. Usually, the top three are awarded spots on the Olympic team. However, the U.S. Figure Skating committee determined that Ashley Wagner, the fourth place finisher make the team based on Wagner’s stronger international record. Although it was reported that Nagusa would appeal the decision, she later decided not to pursue it.

3. Apolo Ohno

The Olympic medalist is keeping busy in retirement. Last year he ran the New York Marathon. This year, he has completed one of the most grueling events out there, the Kona Ironman Triathlon. Ohno finished in 9 hours, 52 minutes and 27 seconds. What will he do next?

2. Marcus Mariota

The Oregon Duck won the Heisman Trophy in December and leads his team into the first College Football Playoff. Mariota is certain to be a top pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.

1. Doug Baldwin

It’s pretty easy to pick Baldwin as he was a key part of the Seahawks run to the Super Bowl last year and remains one of Russell Wilson’s most valuable receivers. Hopefully, we’ll see Baldwin (and the rest of the Seahawks) with another Super Bowl ring in 2015.


Chinese tennis champion who defected during the Cold War to chase her dream of playing Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova returns to Beijing to volley of abuse

Former tennis champion Hu Na, posing for a portrait in Beijing.
Gilles SabriÈ for the Daily Telegraph

The Telegraph:



Long before China had Li Na, its French and Australian Open champion, there was Hu Na, a tall and rangy teenage tennis prodigy from Sichuan.

At 19, she was China’s female tennis champion and a favorite of the Communist party‘s leaders; she often played mixed doubles with the then 65-year-old Wan Li, who later became China’s vice premier.

But on July 16, 1982, a day after arriving in America to compete in the Federation Cup, Hu Na slipped out of her hotel room in Santa Clara, California and disappeared.

Ten days later, her Chinese-American lawyer filed a request for political asylum. It caused a storm: it had only been three years since China and the US had reestablished diplomatic relations.

I never thought it would make such big news,” said Ms Hu, now 51, on a visit to Beijing to promote an exhibition of her art.

But I knew I had to take the chance. Back then we only played overseas twice or three times a year and I did not know when I might be back in the US again.”

Ms Hu said she had been inspired by Martina Navratilova, who was 18 when she defected from Communist Czechoslovakia to the US.

I did not tell anyone about it, not even my parents. I was very worried at the time. I did not know when I would see my parents again. But I wanted to be a tennis professional and my dream gave me the courage to do it,” she said.

Hu Na in1985 at Wimbledon Championships.

Beijing was furious and the Chinese team demanded the US find and return Ms Hu. “We hereby demand the US takes effective measures to find and immediately send her back to our team,” said a statement. Later, the Foreign ministry said the defection was “sure to adversely affect the cultural exchanges between the two countries“.

However, Ms Hu claimed that her parents were not punished for her betrayal. Her grandfather was a men’s’ doubles tennis champion, her father coached the army basketball team in Chengdu and her mother was an official at the Sports Commission.

I do not think my parents had any trouble. At that time China was opening up and reforming and I had my first letter from them a few months later,” she said. A year after her defection, the Chinese tried to tempt her back saying she would not be prosecuted if she returned.

Ms Hu said she had received an offer from Vic Braden, then one of the world’s foremost tennis coaches, to manage her. “I told him to ask the Chinese Tennis Association and he sent many letters but never got an answer,” she said.

There was such a big difference between the US and China. There were tennis courts everywhere. And the players wore dresses at the US Open. In China at that time we just had blue shirts and shorts,” she said.

My parents knew my dream. By the time I was champion of Asia I had no rivals to play with. I wanted to play with Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova,” she said. She played them both, but lost.

Her best championship was Wimbledon in 1985 where she reached the third round, knocking out Annabel Croft. “The next day, even the taxi drivers recognised me because everyone in Britain had watched that match,” she said.

In 1990 her parents were allowed to visit her in the US for the first time. “My mother cried because my skin was so tanned she thought I was ugly,” she said. Eventually her entire family resettled in the US, and Ms Hu was allowed to return to China.

However, her latest visit has been greeted with abuse by Chinese nationalists, who questioned whether a former “traitor” should be allowed back on Chinese soil.

Who let her in?” wrote one commenter on the Chinese Internet. “How long does the crime of defection last for? It is a provocation to come back for an art exhibition.”

You bring shame to our country. The motherland does not forbid her from coming back, this shows the tolerance and the progress of the nation; But our countrymen have rejected her, this is how the people judged her,” wrote another, according to a translation on the ChinaSmack website.

Ms Hu said she does not pay any attention to the criticism. “I remember the first time I came back to China there had been such a big change,” she said. “When I was young I would play tennis into the evening and then I would have to walk home for half an hour and there were no lights. It used to be so dark.”

And she praised Li Na for standing up to the Chinese state sports system. “Li Na chose her own way and you can see from the success she had that it was a good thing. I think things have changed now,” she added.

A First Look at the mita sneakers (Japan) x New Balance MRT580 “The Battle of Surfaces”

Image of A First Look at the mita sneakers x New Balance MRT580 “The Battle of Surfaces”

New images have been released of the collaborative New Balance 580 sneaker between mita sneakers and New Balance titled, “The Battle of Surfaces.”

In an obvious nod to tennis, the shoe’s upper resembles that of a tennis ball, having been constructed from material that looks and feels like the felt you’d see on a ball. Playing off of the white lines of a physical tennis court comes the strong white accents throughout the body, coupled with the solid white bottom sole, creatively completing the tennis feel of the sneakers.

Pick up a pair exclusively from mita sneakers now.

Kei Nishikori reaches U.S. Open final, beating Novak Djokovic and becoming the first man from Asia to reach a Grand Slam final.

Kei Nishikori of Japan won in four sets on Saturday at the U.S. Open.

As Kei Nishikori has kept fighting through imposing obstacles at this United States Open, his coach Michael Chang has kept reminding him, “Great effort, but the tournament is not over yet.”

It certainly is not. After fighting his way through consecutive five-set matches to earn a semifinal spot against No. 1-seeded Novak Djokovic, Nishikori extended his one-man show of resilience by upsetting Djokovic to reach the final.

His remarkable 6-4, 1-6, 7-6 (4), 6-3 victory on Saturday made him the first man from Asia to reach a Grand Slam singles final.

It’s, I don’t know, 4 o’clock in the morning,” Nishikori, 24, said of the time in his native Japan. “But I hope a lot of people are watching.”

If they were not on Saturday, they will be soon. Nishikori, who left home at age 14 to train at the IMG Academy in Bradenton Fla., was a star in his homeland. His run here and his victory over Djokovic will take him to a new level.

I was a little bit tight,” Nishikori said, “especially it was my first semifinal in a Grand Slam, but it’s just amazing, amazing feeling beating the No. 1 player.”

In Monday’s final, Nishikori will face the winner of Saturday’s second semifinal between No. 2-seeded Roger Federer and No. 14 Marin Cilic.

The 10th-seeded Nishikori is the lowest seed to reach the final of the United States Open since Pete Sampras, who was seeded 17th when he won the title in 2002 in what turned out to be his final professional match. But Nishikori is just getting started and might well have made this kind of breakthrough earlier if not for a series of injuries, including a serious right elbow problem that required surgery in 2009 and knocked him far out of the top 100.

He has long been considered a great talent by people who have seen plenty of great talent, including Nick Bollettieri, the veteran American coach who is the instructor emeritus at the academy in Bradenton that once bore his name.

He and Xavier Malisse and Marcelo Rios are the best shotmakers I’ve ever worked with,” Bollettieri said in an interview before this season. “If Kei Nishikori could stay healthy, he could be and would be right up with the big boys.

Eight months later, there he was in Arthur Ashe Stadium beating the top-ranked player in the world. Nishikori had played Djokovic twice before; losing in the second round of the French Open in straight sets in 2010, and upsetting him in 2011 near the end of Djokovic’s finest season in the semifinals of the indoor tournament in Basel, Switzerland.

But this was certainly a much grander stage than Basel, and what made his victory all the more remarkable was that Nishikori had spent nearly three and a half hours longer on court in this tournament than Djokovic coming into this semifinal.

Nishikori needed five sets and more than four hours to beat fifth-seeded Milos Raonic in a fourth round that ended at 2:26 a.m. Tuesday. He did not get to bed until close to 6 that morning but then bounced back on Wednesday to upset third-seeded Stan Wawrinka, the reigning Australian Open champion, in five sets.

Before he played Stan, I was more concerned that he would still be focusing on the Raonic match,” Chang said. “So I was like constantly telling him, ‘Hey you’ve got another match here to play, another match, another match.’ Because that tends to be the struggle with players that have a big win and then a letdown following that.”

Chang, the American who shocked the tennis world to win the 1989 French Open at age 17, began coaching Nishikori this season, joining a team that included his coach Dante Bottini and the fitness trainer Hiroto Kon.

He’s been helping me a lot,” Nishikori said of Chang. “Him and Dante communicating a lot, and it’s been working super well, so that’s why I’m here.”

Reebok Instapump Fury “Michael Chang”

Image of Reebok Instapump Fury "Michael Chang"

Paying tribute to tennis great Michael Chang, Reebok unveils an Instapump Fury dedicated to his name. Featuring a blend of signature retro colors previously highlighted on the Court Victory Pump, a white mesh upper adorns the silhouette while highlighter yellow and turquoise splash the vamp, back heel and midsole. A staple on the laceless model, the renowned Reebok pump inflation system along the tongue finishes the aesthetic.

Look for the Reebok Instapump Fury “Michael Chang” to be available at select Reebok accounts worldwide.


Top 10 Asian American athletes in 2013

The year 2013 was another one for Asian American athletes. Last year was all about Linsanity, as Jeremy Lin came out of nowhere to be the toast of the NBA. This year, Lin was not as big, although a documentary about his life and road to stardom was released this year.

The year began with the confusing tale of former Notre Dame football player Manti Te’o. It was discovered that the linebacker, who was drafted by the San Diego Chargers, had a girlfriend he never met. And then it was discovered that the girlfriend did not exist. Te’o, who had a clean-cut image before this news broke, had to explain what happened and why he had a girlfriend he talked to but never actually saw in person. It was discovered that Te’o was a victim of online “catfishing,” which occurs when someone pretends to be someone they are not. It proved to be an embarrassing moment for Te’o and he spent the second half of 2013 staying out of the spotlight, which was probably a good thing.

Dennis Rodman made friends with North Korean dictator Kim Jung Un. Yes, this actually happened. The former Chicago Bull made a trip to North Korea and hit it off with the leader of one of the Axes of Evil. The North Korean dictator is a fan of the NBA and Rodman, which may only hurt diplomatic relations between the countries.

Locally, Hishashi Iwakuma emerged as a star for the fledgling Seattle Mariners and was a finalist for the Cy Young Award in the American League. The award is given to the best pitcher in baseball.

The effort to bring professional basketball to Seattle was once again thwarted. Indian American Vivek Ranadive bought the Sacramento Kings in order to keep them in Sacramento, stopping its move to Seattle.

High School swimmer Edward Kim is a dominant force in the pool for Eastlake High School. Kim has won multiple state titles and back-to-back Class 4A Swimmer of the Meet awards.

Tegan, 11, and Taylan, 16, Yuasa are nationally ranked Judo practitioners in their respective age groups. Both brothers have won local and national competitions in their respective divisions.  Stay tuned to these guys in the next couple years — we may see them in the Olympics.

Honorable Mentions

Although we do not have them on this list, there are many Asian athletes that had great years. First, it would be wrong not to mention all of the great golfers this year. China’s Guan Tianlang played at the Masters in Augusta, Ga., at the age of 14. He was the youngest ever to compete at the event and even played a practice round with Tiger Woods.

Inbee Park was a dominant figure in women’s golf this year. In fact, five of the top 10 golfers in the world in women’s golf are Asian. Park is currently ranked the No. 1 golfer in the world. The 25-year-old won three straight major golf championships this year. Park leads the charge of great Asian golfers in the sport. There will be much more to come in 2014.

Li Na also had a great year in women’s tennis. Na was the runner-up in the 2013 Australian Open and made the semifinals of the U.S. Open, where she lost to the eventual champion Serena Williams.

10.  Kelli Suguro – A senior walk-on with the University of Washington softball team, Suguro was an All-Pac 12 honorable mention last year. Suguro helped the team make another run at the NCAA Women’s College World Series. She scored some notoriety with a great play last season that made ESPN’s Top Play of the Night — a nightly feature on the network’s SportsCenter.

9.  Tim Lincecum – The former University of Washington standout pitcher has been an annual mainstay on this list. He continues to be a valuable part of the San Francisco Giants pitching staff. The highlight for this season was pitching a no-hitter against the San Diego Padres on July 13th. For his work, he signed a two-year, $35 million contract with the Giants, which will keep him in San Francisco through 2015.

8. Kim Ng – Would the Mariners be better had the organization hired Ng? We couldn’t have done any worse. Ng, one of the finalists for the Mariners’ general manager position in 2008, is now a Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations for Major League Baseball. Prior to that, she had positions with the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees. Despite not getting the chance to be the first Asian American woman to be a top executive for a Major League Baseball team, Ng is still a trailblazer and role model in baseball.

7.  Peyton Siva – The former Franklin High School basketball star had a big year. He helped the Louisville Cardinals win the 2013 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament. He was an Academic All-American and shortly after his graduation, he was drafted into the NBA by the Detroit Pistons. He also married his longtime girlfriend at Louisville’s home arena.

6.  Jeanette Lee (aka The Black Widow) – The longtime professional pool player was elected to the Hall of Fame of her sport. Given the nickname because she would “eat her opponents alive,” she dominated the billiard circuit, despite her physical ailments.

5.  Hines Ward – While some athletes fall out of shape and get a belly after retiring, Ward has remained active. He trained for the Ironman Triathlon in Kona, Hawaii. Hines completed the 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, and 26.2-mile run in 13 hours, 8 minutes, and 15 seconds. Ward, who is half Korean, participated with help from his sponsor, Chocolate Milk.

4.  Jeremy Lin – Linsanity still lives. In fact, Lin has had a couple of outstanding games this season, which reminded everyone of two seasons ago. However, injuries have set Lin back this year. For those who missed the hype of “Linsanity,” a documentary, “Linsanity: The Movie,” detailing his journey from benchwarmer to toast-of-the-town, was in theatres this year. The film was shown at Sundance and the South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival in 2013. It should be available via DVD in 2014.

3.  Marques Tuiasosopo – The former University of Washington (UW) quarterback got his chance to coach the football team at the Fight Hunger Bowl on Dec. 27. The opportunity arose as former UW head coach Steve Sarkisian bolted for Southern California to take the vacated job at USC. According to news reports, new UW coach Chris Peterson offered Tuiasosopo the position of tight ends coach, but “Tui” has instead accepted an offer as tight ends coach for USC.

2.  Doug Baldwin – The Seattle Seahawks have had one of its best seasons in recent memory and dreams of a Super Bowl in 2014 are in the team’s grasp. Baldwin is one of the team’s unsung heroes. He is a clutch wide receiver and a favorite target of Russell Wilson on third downs. Currently, he leads the team in receiving yards and is tied for most touchdowns by a wide receiver. At a recent home game, Baldwin ran out of the Seahawks tunnel with the Filipino flag to bring awareness and support for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan. Baldwin is part Filipino and has relatives in the Philippines.

1. Erik Spoelestra – You win an NBA Championship, and you make this list. You win back-to-back and you get the top spot. “Coach Spo,” as he’s known, led the Miami Heat to another NBA Championship. The Heat are the favorites this year to make it a “3peat.” Spoelestra, who is half Filipino, has made public service announcements on behalf of the victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

Spoelestra went to high school in Portland and played college basketball at the University of Portland. In 1989, he was named Freshman of the Year in the West Coast Conference.

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Top 10 Asian American athletes in 2013