There is normally a progression in sports when you play postseason tournaments; steps you have to take each season or each year to get better until finally scaling the top of the mountain.
For Great Neck South tennis star Albert Hu, the progression toward county singles champion has been linear so far.
As a freshman in 2021, Hu finished third at the Nassau County individual singles event.
Last year, Hu advanced to the final before losing to eventual New York state champ Stephan Gershfeld of Hewlett.
So, a third, a second … this year ought to bring the big trophy to Hu’s house, right?
“I’m trying for that,” he said in a recent interview. “Last year I was really proud to get second, because I played really well in the semis. Just trying to keep getting better.”
Hu, a lefty with a ferocious forehand and strong all-court game, has been a mainstay in local tennis since he was a freshman, when he arrived on the Great Neck South varsity and immediately became the No.1 singles player.
“He was clearly by far our best player, I knew that as soon as I saw him play,” said Great Neck South coach Joshua Dugan. “His pace, his power, his knowledge and tennis IQ, he does everything so well.”
Hu is looking to play a full high school season this spring after missing time last year with groin and wrist injuries; despite not getting as many matches, he reached the quarterfinals of the state championships.
This season he’s compiled a 4-2 record through matches of April 28.
“I don’t really like team sports, but I love playing high school tennis because you’ve got people cheering for you and the whole team gets into it,” Hu said. “There’s definitely a lot more pressure playing (high school tennis), because every match you’re playing is for the team, not just yourself.”
Hu doesn’t always hear the cheers, though.
“It’s funny but if I’m winning by a lot or losing by a lot, I hear my teammates and the crowd,” he said. “But if it’s a really close match, I’m totally focused and don’t hear anything.”
Hu said he started playing tennis around age 9, and started to get serious about the sport in middle school. Hu began working with coach Maurice Trail at Robbie Wagner Tennis Training Center in Glen Cove in late 2018.
“His mental game has developed the most out of anything,” Trail said. “He doesn’t go away in matches, no matter what the score is. He’s gotten much more mentally tough and really learned how to compete well.”
“And he’s one of the most coachable kids I’ve ever worked with,” Trail added.