ROEHAMPTON – Hsieh Cheng-Peng is in the Wimbledon men’s doubles draw.
If you’ve never heard of him, you’re not alone. Outside the Hsieh household, he’s hardly a household name even if he, technically, is already a Wimbledon champion.
The 25-year-old from Taipei has been at this since 2010. And he has earned a total of $86,000 in career prize money – one-quarter of which came this season.
Hsieh barely has a singles ranking. He has hardly played outside of Asia as a pro or been to North America at all.
At the beginning of 2015, he had no doubles ranking.
He’s never won a match at the ATP level, in seven attempts.
And he’s in the Wimbledon men’s doubles draw.
How did he get here? Mostly, sisterly love.
Hsieh won the 2008 Wimbledon junior doubles title, the 2009 US Open junior doubles title, and back-to-back junior doubles titles at the Australian Open both those years. In each, he lost in the first round (or the first round of qualifying) in the singles. But on the strength of his overall record (doubles success counts towards an ITF junior ranking), he peaked at No. 8 in 2009.
To try to be a doubles specialist from junior age is a career path most wouldn’t recommend. Because if the prize money in singles cannot sustain you at the ITF starter level, imagine how bad the doubles money is.
Successful sister helps career
Hsieh’s sister – one of his six siblings – is Hsieh Su-Wei. She’s the 31-year-old who made such a big splash at this year’s French Open when she grinned her way to the third round, after shocking No.7 seed Johanna Konta in the first round.
She looked on her way into the second week, too, until France’s Caroline Garcia came back from a 1-3 deficit, and from Hsieh serving for the match at 6-5 in the third set, and won it 9-7.
Other than a brief splash in 2012, when she won two WTA titles in Asia and got to No. 25 in the world, Hsieh’s best career moments have been in doubles. Three years ago, she was No. 1 in the world. Hsieh and Peng Shuai won Wimbledon and the WTA Tour finals in 2013, and the French Open in 2014 before they split up.
She’s made $4.5 million during her long career. And, we’re told, she has been bankrolling her little brother’s career. That career, until recently, seemed an exercise in futility.
Loose as a goose
Hsieh first came to our attention at the Australian Open in 2015. He and countryman Tsung-Hua Yang had squeezed into the draw and drew two accomplished doubles guys in Canadian legend Daniel Nestor and crafty Czech veteran Radek Stepanek in the first round.
They didn’t last two long. But while they were on court, they made a huge impression as Hsieh just wound up and went ballistic on every shot.
Plus, they looked like they were having the time of their lives.
It was the same in Roehampton.
First time’s the charm
For the Wimbledon qualifying, Hsieh hooked with big American Max Schnur for the first time in their respective careers.
At No. 105, Schnur’s ranking was similar, and they could get into the qualifying together.
After posting a comeback win in the first round against a Russian team, they lost the first set in a tiebreak to Ariel Behar of Uruguay and Aliaksandr Bury of Belarus.
No problem. At one point, while their opponents were arguing the double-hit rule with the chair umpire, they just played volley-volley in the back court to pass the time.
When Hsieh realized we were snapping pics of it, he just looked up, smiled, and winked.
The pair pulled off the win. Hsieh teed off on pretty much every groundstroke. Schnur just laughed. Their opponents didn’t find it amusing in the least.
No one was more excited for them than sister Su-Wei.
In the main draw – at the big house – Hsieh and Schnur will play a pair of tough, experienced doubles customers in Marcin Matkowski of Poland and Max Mirnyi of Belarus.
But it’s all bonus. The pair will split £10,750 just for making it through the AELTC gates.
Rematch for big sis
For big sister, it was a brief respite from the upcoming spotlight.
Su-Wei Hsieh drew the No. 6 seed, the best female British hope, in the first round.
Yup, it’s Konda – just like in Paris. Except this time, the match will take place in Konta’s home country and on a better surface for her.
But if Hsieh Su-Wei’s joie de vivre in Paris is any indication, big sister will embrace the moment just as her brother most surely will.
At Roehampton this week, she was actually skipping down the grass to find a spot to sit, to cheer him on.
Yes, the 31-year-old was skipping; not a care in the world.
That family’s get-togethers must really be something else – if these two are any indication.