On Sunday, Oct. 29, the first-ever Qilin Cup entered its second day. Our sights went to Wellington College Shanghai, not far away from the NYUSH campus.  Beneath a sapphire sky of autumn, the game of tennis was on!

This afternoon, the final two matches began with NYU Shanghai (NYUSH) versus East China Normal University (ECNU) and Duke Kunshan University (DKU) versus the University of Nottingham Ningbo China (UNNC). The Qilins won 2 matches in a row against DKU and UNNC, but ECNU’s strength was a couple of levels above ours. 

Before playing with ECNU, our tennis captain, Guanheng Cen from the class of 2026, remarked, “Everyone paid their fullest efforts in the two days’ matches. Regardless of the strength of our opponents, all of our team members are doing their best to earn an honor for the school.” When asked about his outlook on the match with ECNU, Guanheng told me, “We haven’t played with them in the previous matches; it’s a precious chance to challenge them. Their strengths are above us, so we will try to fulfill our strategy and do our best.” In April, NYUSH’s tennis team did an excellent job and won the championship of the Xi’an Jiaotong University Liverpool Cup (XJTLU Cup). But at the Qilin Cup, as some team members went to study away, new challenges emerged for this team. Guanheng said, “A lot of junior team members went to study away, but we also have some study away students that come to join our team. Regardless of the changing of the team members, our team spirit and goal always continue.”

Captain Guanheng Cen (Jingyi Ma for On Magnolia Square)

The ECNU player, Fuman Xie, drew all the attention of the court. With experience playing tennis for nine years, she has already earned the title “Athlete of the International Level,” the highest level for Chinese athletes. Although the Qilin Cup is her first time with Sino-foreign university opponents, she has experience playing international matches and top-level Chinese players. When asked what tennis has brought her in the previous years, Fuman smiled. “Health,” she responded. “Secondly, a good atmosphere for making friends. When I’m playing, I will be happy from the bottom of my heart.” She told me, “The most impressive thing about the Qilin Cup is that everyone here is cheerful and friendly. We have a very friendly atmosphere for all players!”

Fuman Xie in matches (Courtesy of NYUSH Qilin Cup Official Broadcast Group)

Graham Wood from America is a DKU senior student player who is studying away in China this semester. Their tennis team has the shortest history here—only less than one year. Still, the DKU tennis team accommodated new members and made progress, and they cherished the chance to compete with higher-level players. Graham said, “Last week, we practiced together with UNNC students. This is the second time I got to play with Chinese students, and the ECNU players are really amazing!” The captain of DKU’s tennis team, Aleksandra Stryjska from Poland, also accepted our interview. “Although our team lost almost all the matches, they kept fighting all the time. We show very good sportsmanship and I’m very proud of them. Although we don’t come here to win, we are cheerful about each point. It’s also a precious experience for our team members to meet with people from different cultures and countries.” 

Graham Wood on the left, Coach Yang Yang in the middle, Captain Aleksandra Stryjska on the right
(Courtesy of NYUSH Qilin Cup official broadcast group)

For Sixuan (Judy) Zhu from UNNC, the Qilin Cup gave her a big surprise to meet with an old friend. During the matches, she reunited with Fuman Xie. “We are both from Heilongjiang Province. Our last combat was in junior high school, in the Heilongjiang Province Game, and I’m so excited to see her here again! I really cherish our chance to play together after so many years!” 

In the Qilin Cup, she partnered with a British student, Christopher Cogley. “When you’re playing tennis with someone, you have chemistry, you will form a good relationship with them. It’s a pleasure to play with a good partner. We’re supportive, and that’s what matters.” Christopher said. Sixuan praised her teammate, “I want to appreciate my partner Chris! It’s really unforgettable, for this is my first time to play mixed doubles. We had excellent cooperation and presented a wonderful match.” 

Sixuan Zhu and Christopher Cogley cheered (Courtesy of NYUSH Qilin Cup Official Broadcast Group)

The coach of UNNC, Martin Brozovsky from the Czech Republic, concluded today’s matches. “I’ve been coaching the UNNC tennis team for four years and led the team through a variety of inter-school matches. Considering our opponents’ strengths, we have done pretty well. We will continue to improve our serve and consistency, and decrease unforced errors in the game. We’re getting better every year.”

It was so heartwarming to watch the tennis games at the Qilin Cup. The games gave us so many moving and delightful memories. Thank you, athletes, for your efforts, and hope to see everyone at the Qilin Cup in the years to come!