When you play against Michael Shi, you are going to have to earn every point. There are no gimmies. There are no balls he gives up on. He’s what is known as a “grinder” – high praise for a tennis player. There is simply no quit in his game.
And this drive, passion and resiliency have served him well.
Shi heads into the state finals this week with his Huron teammates determined to play their best tennis of the year and let the chips fall. What else can you do, but give it your best.
“Our team goal this year is to try and win states,” says Shi. “I feel like our team is very energized and positive in the way we bring each other up when we win/lose points. I feel that with the new system this year of states, it shows more of a team based effort on and off the field.”
Shi, now a senior, has had plenty of success in the state finals. He’s gone to the semifinals twice and the quarterfinals once. “These are experiences I’ll never forget because I learned a lot from the times I have played in the state tournament,” he says.
He’s been a key player this year for Huron. The River Rats are the second seed at the state finals, lost just one dual-meet this season and won the SEC Red Division title.
“Michael is hard working and always has a good attitude and very respectful,” says Huron Coach Zsofi Towne. “The team is his priority and cares about his teammates. He’s a very talented, left-handed player and clinched the match for us vs. Pioneer. He is truly a grinder out there.”
What are his strengths? Let’s ask the person who knows him best.
“I think the strength about me is my backhand and my resilience with my speed,” Shi says. “Even when I am down, I work hard for each and every point. I also feel more comfortable hitting my backhands than hitting my forehands when returning serves or hitting shots that I need to attack or defend on.”
He’s always working on his game and finding ways to get better.
“The things I need to work on are my forehand because I still don’t feel comfortable sometimes hitting my forehand,” he says. “Sometimes I can hit it well but I just don’t feel comfortable with hitting it.”
Michael, the son of Bing Yang and Wei Shi, first got interested in tennis in third grade. “It was actually not the first sport I played,” he says. “I loved soccer back then. But then I found that there was success for me in tennis and so I went with tennis.”
Shi says he’s been dealing with the 2020 challenges the best he can. Despite the pandemic, school has been going well for the River Rat.
“The challenges that I have had in school are things like not seeing my friends physically and not being able to have class in school.
“This is my senior year and I did not want to miss a season of high school tennis. The challenge is also about social distancing because I feel that sometimes people forget to social distance and everyone has to be reminded in practices and matches.”
Shi is considering his options when it comes to tennis. He is thinking about playing the sport he loves at the next level even if its club tennis at a D-1 school.
“I haven’t chosen a college yet but I’m thinking about the schools that are around here like U-M, Michigan State, Wayne State, and a couple other Big Ten schools,” he says.
Right now all he is thinking about is helping his team win another state title – or at least do the best they can.