On Tuesday evening, Hofstra tennis will be on display at the New York Open, as sophomore Shawn Jackson and freshman Ostap Kovalenko prepare to play in the tournament’s main draw.
Jackson and Kovalenko earned a wild card into the doubles draw, and are set to play American Tennys Sandgren and Sweden’s Robert Lindstedt in the opening round.
“When I found out, I called up Shawn and Ostap, and at first they didn’t believe me,” said Hofstra head coach Jason Pasion. “We’ve just been on cloud nine ever since. We’ve been training on the practice courts at Carefree Racquet Club, and practicing at Nassau Coliseum whenever we had the chance. They’re taking it all in, and really enjoying the moment.”
Jackson hails from Staten Island where he played his high school tennis at Susan Wagner, winning the PSAL Singles title in his senior season, while Kovalenko is a native of Bashkortostan, Russia where he was a top-ranked ITF junior.
“They’re both high-level players. When I put them together as a doubles team, they just meshed,” Pasion said. “We played two dual matches in the fall and they won both of their matches.”
Playing Sandgren and Lindstedt will be a new challenge for Jackson and Kovalenko, though. Sandgren had match points against Roger Federer for a spot in the Australian Open semifinals just a couple of weeks ago, and Lindstedt is a former Australian Open doubles champion.
“We know they have their work cut out for them,” said Pasion. “They just have to play relaxed, with no pressure and just make shots. You never know.”
The match will be part of New York Open’s College Night on Tuesday, which also includes Harvard’s Brian Shi, a Long Island native, playing seventh-seed Cameron Norrie in the opening match of the Night Session.
“The New York Open has been so great in supporting college tennis, and local tennis in general,” added Pasion. “We’re very grateful that Tournament Director Peter Lebedevs and the committee are giving Hofstra the opportunity to play in such a great event.”
Brian Coleman is the Senior Editor for Long Island Tennis Magazine. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.