Within hitting distance of the top

Tsz-fung Yip is a professional squash player who represents Hong Kong, and is also a fourth year BBA Management Sciences student at the College of Business. In April 2016 he reached a career-high world ranking of 50.

Fresh from a sequence of three victories in the qualification and main draw of the Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Open, Yip Tsz-fung is on a roll. And he is enjoying the experience:

"When a lot of people are cheering you on, you get extra power," he said. In the Hong Kong Open first round he beat the world number 23, Englishman Tom Richards, and said the victory was down to a mid-match change of tactics.

"I started conservative, but then I found he was outplaying me at that, so I had to make a change. Then I started to play more attacking." In squash that means controlling the match from the "T", the centre of the court, and taking the ball early.

"The English guys are very consistent and very good at the basics. They will pin you to the back court, and then wait for their chance. If you are being outhit, you have to make a change." Yip successfully negotiated that first match, winning in five sets. His second round match was a different proposition, playing Tarek Momen, the world number 11.

"The Egyptian players bring something different to the game. They are usually more attacking, more aggressive, and more unpredictable." Yip managed to take the first set but then found he was tiring, dropped his pace, and the match had slipped away from him. Still he draws positives from the experience:

"Somehow it's fun to play against these different styles of player. You have to change your game plan, to adapt to the new circumstances." With a lifetime high world ranking of 50, Yip is now within hitting distance of the top players.

"I'm happy to have got to this position, but always looking to build on it. Back at the start of 2015, I was playing small tournaments. In November I went to the World Open in New York, and met a lot of new players. Now I have a good chance to play with the better players. This is the way that you improve."

Yip is grateful to Hong Kong Squash for providing the basis for his career. "In Hong Kong there is a lot of good support infrastructure and I am able to maintain a living. There is support for living, travel, accommodation and a monthly subsidy." Yip lives in a hostel in the Hong Kong Sports Institute, and follows a strict training regime – mornings are devoted to squash training, and then in the afternoons two weight training, and two running sessions per week. All in he plays squash about 20 hours per week.

What of the future? Like many other professional players on the circuit, Yip is also studying – he is in the fourth year in the Department of Management Sciences. "As a professional squash player, I can only take 9 credits per year because I am travelling so much." But he places great store on his parallel academic study. "You never know how long your career might last. So it makes sense to have the backup."

We wish Yip every success, on and off the court, in the years to come!