Getting to know Ardrey Kell senior tennis standout Jim Fan

by C. Jemal Horton

Senior Jim Fan plays No. 2 singles for Ardrey Kell this season. C. Jemal Horton/SCW photo

During his four-year high school career, which includes two years at Myers Park and the last two seasons at Ardrey Kell, senior Jim Fan has been one of the state’s most effective tennis players.

Entering this week’s highly anticipated match against Providence, which will determine the Southwestern 4A conference’s regular-season champ, Fan had a career record of 64-16 in singles play and 17-6 in doubles.

Fan, who sports a 5.0 GPA at Ardrey Kell, recently sat down with South Charlotte Weekly to discuss tennis and a few other interesting topics.

Q: How would you characterize your senior season thus far?
A: It’s been a great season. I’ve had a lot of fun this year. I also get to look forward to how AK’s going to be when I leave, because there are all sorts of rising players here who will make sure AK is strong long after I leave.
That’s fairly important to me. It’ll be nice to be in college and see how my old school is doing.

Q: What was it like to spend two years at Myers Park (in the International Baccaleaurate program) and then transfer to Ardrey Kell? Was that a tough transition to suddenly be playing for a team that was your enemy?
A: It wasn’t so bad because a lot of these people I went to Jay M. Robinson (Middle School) with. There also were a lot of people I knew from chess tournaments.

Q: You’re a chess player?
A: I started chess in third grade and played when I was in middle school and the beginning of high school. I was decent. I wasn’t great, but I was pretty good. I was rated 1,500 or so. It’s a rating system of how good you are, not a ranking. I think the highest you can be rated is 3,000.

Q: You’re kind of tall for a tennis player (6 foot 3). Did you ever play any other sports?
A: When I was real young, I played basketball and soccer. But I’m really bad at basketball. Now, though, I sometimes get jokes from people saying, “Hey, it’s Yao Ming!”

Q: So you’re not that bad at basketball, are you?
A: Uh, I’m pretty bad.

Q: What is it you love about tennis?
A: I love the fact that it’s about the work you put in but also how you can stay focused on the court. I guess I like the strategy involved, but I also like the fact that there’s some will involved in order for you to win.

Q: If you could have dinner with one person, past or present, who would it be?
A: I think (Isaac) Asimov. He really (was) an incredibly brilliant science fiction writer, but he’s also a scientist. That just sounds like a person who does things that I really would enjoy.

Q: What’s your favorite movie?
A: “Pulp Fiction.” It’s a movie that combines elements of action and also has lots of meaning behind it. It’s really entertaining and funny.

Q: What’s your favorite television show?
A: “Friends.” I watch reruns online.

Q: Who are your favorite musicians?
A: The Red Hot Chili Peppers, and I’ve been listening to Weezer lately. I heard one of their songs and really liked it, and it made me interested in hearing some of the rest of their songs.

Q: Do you have any pre-match rituals?
A: I just sort of walk on the court and try to give the appearance of being calm and collected, like, “I don’t really care if I win this match. I’m just going to do whatever and have fun.” I try to do that. Doesn’t really work.

Q: What’s your guilty pleasure?
A: I like manga. It’s Japanese comics. Some of them are sort of girly. But some of the TV shows I like are sort of like chick flicks, too, so it doesn’t matter to me.

Q: Are you ready for this week’s match against Providence for a chance to win the conference championship?
A: It’s always challenging to be able to win the conference. Myers Park lost to Ardrey Kell my freshman year. I won it my sophomore year (with Myers Park). Then, Ardrey Kell lost to Myers Park when I came here in my junior year.
It’s nice to be able to say that you’re the best tennis team in the district. You get bragging rights and you really feel good about the team as a whole. So I’d really love to win.

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