Michael Chang

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 12 February, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 12 February, 2006, 12:00am

'It doesn't matter what time I go to bed; it can be 10.30pm or 2am, I'll still get up at 7.30am. Even if I didn't have an alarm clock, I'd wake up at that time. First thing is my quiet time; in prayer or reading the bible. Then I get ready for my day - take a shower, brush my teeth - sometimes I'll eat a light breakfast. I never drink coffee.

I'm living in Mission Viejo, Orange County, California, I've just moved there from Seattle. I've been living there for just over a year, but a lot of my things are still on Mercer Island. I'm a bachelor, so I don't have that much stuff in my condo.

The Chang Family Foundation is moving down there because my mum and dad are already in California. My brother, Carl, his wife, Diana, and their three daughters have also moved down to Orange County from the Seattle area. My dad had a little medical scare a couple of years ago, so we decided to move closer to my parents so they can be closer to their grandchildren. I'm also very close to Carl.

I drive the 15 minutes to the office and what time I get there depends on what needs to be done, but it's definitely by 9.45am. My mornings are spent trying to put together the Christian Sports League for southern California. We've been running the league in Seattle for the past four years and now we're making connections with different people, organisations and churches in California. I'm trying to find venues and put together a core team to get everything squared away and up and running before the season starts.

It's ministry outreach through sport, such as basketball and volleyball. Our foundation teaches the captains and co-captains how to lead their team and how to share with their team, and there's an emphasis on Christian values.

I don't eat at any particular restaurant for lunch, but I mostly eat Asian food. If I'm not eating some kind of Chinese food, I'm eating Korean barbecue or spicy tofu, Japanese sushi and sashimi, or Vietnamese pho. Sometimes I'll leave the office and go to Carl's house or my parents' place to relax and have a meal with them. They only live about 10 minutes away.

My afternoons depend on what's been done in the morning. Sometimes, if I've finished everything, I pick up my niece from school. The kids don't recognise me [as a famous tennis player], probably because my niece is only six. The teachers maybe, but not the kids. You tend to see more famous people in Los Angeles, so it's not as big a deal. I'm certainly recognised [in Asia] more than at home. I keep thinking that because I have black hair, I might not be so easy to recognise when I'm in Asia, but it's certainly not true.

Other days, I might hit a few golf balls on the driving range, or swat a few tennis balls. I have no problem finding partners for social games of tennis. Unfortunately, I can't serve 200km/h at their body and expect them to say, 'Okay, do that to me again'.

I do miss that. To be honest, there's really nobody to play with. I've hit with some very good juniors in conjunction with the United States Tennis Association, but juniors are juniors. Probably the best competition I get is playing against Carl. This March, there's a champions' cup tour in Naples, Florida. There'll be myself, John McEnroe, Todd Martin, Goran Ivanisevic, Boris Becker, Mats Wilander and Stefan Edberg. A lot of these guys who have retired are going to come back and play a few events just for fun. I'm looking forward to going back and meeting up with some good friends.

One day a week, I'm in graduate school at the Talbot School of Theology; it's part of Biola University, which is a private Christian university. Last term, I had my classes

on a Wednesday, so on that day I was in school from 2.30pm till 7.10pm. I want classes towards the middle of the week because my speaking engagements tend to be on Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays. I'm not taking a full load of classes, so my graduation won't be for quite some time. I didn't want to be studying 24/7 on top of my speaking engagements because it would be tough to do a full load. I'm studying because I want to become biblically stronger, to try to understand the Bible better, try to grow my faith. All the different ministry stuff we're doing ties in with that so if I'm able to become a more effective communicator or understand God's word better, then I'm able to relay that to the people whose lives I'm trying to [have an] impact on.

My speaking engagements are with churches, universities, business luncheons, academies and conferences. Most of it is Christian testimony relating to life application; things I've learned through my

tennis career.

I used to come to Asia about twice a year in the early part of my career. I was in some part of China every year from 1988 to 2002. My dad was born in Guangdong and my mum was born in Delhi, India. My grandfather was a diplomat who was stationed there for some time. I have a great-grandma on my father's side who still lives in China. She's 105.

After Hong Kong, I'll be in Shanghai doing promotional work for Prince of Peace American Ginseng, then I'll be in Bangkok, where the church I go to in California is establishing itself. I'm going to help out at the first service.

I don't work out as much as I used to and I have to watch what I eat a little more closely these days. I used to have a tough time understanding why students gained so much weight at school, then I realised it's because they eat so late. I'm lucky because my weight hasn't changed much from when I was playing.

In the evenings, I'll get together with family to talk over business, or maybe meet with a couple of friends or a small group. We'll either go out to eat or have a barbecue at Carl's house then do some fun things, such as play tennis or golf, or go bowling.

The only thing that differentiates my weekend from the week is Sunday morning, when I go to church. I tend to go on my own because I'm an early riser and Carl, Diana and the kids can't get up.'