Tom Feng is just 20 years old. But he has already a lifetime of accomplishments on the court.
A 2016 Rio Games Olympian, Feng hit the Las Vegas trifecta jackpot at the 2015 US Nationals by sweeping the men’s singles, men’s doubles and mixed doubles titles.
In 2016 he successfully defended his US Mixed doubles crown and also by virtue of winning the North American Cup singles title played in the World Cup.
Last year Feng transferred from University of Georgia to NYU to continue his college education and skipped both the U.S. Nationals and U.S. Open.
A sophomore, Feng is a Sports Management Major and this semester his class list includes Intro to Sociology and Sports Management Accounting. He is on track to graduate in 2020.
The Insider caught up with Feng by email during the bomb cyclone snow storm that battered New York and the Northeast last Friday and figured that the weather and living in the big city was a good place to start the conversation with Feng, who was born in China and then lived in Texas and Atlanta.
INSIDER: Let's start with you being here in New York and how much of a life change has that been for a young man who was born in China, lived in Texas for several years and then to Atlanta?
TF: It definitely took me a while to adjust to the fast pace lifestyle in New York. I had to learn about the subway system and get used to the cold weather. New York is pretty similar to Nanjing, where the city is crowded and there are many interesting things to do during leisure time.
INSIDER: What do you like the best about living in NYC? What do you dislike about living in NYC (especially on a snowy, cold winter day like today!)
TF: I love how I could play table tennis, give table tennis lessons, as well as go to NYU at the same time without burning out. The one thing I don't like about New York is that the environment in the subway is too depressing. People would have no smiles on their face and it would sometimes affect my mood too.
INSIDER: As a full-time college student is it difficult to combine your college studies with practicing and competing?
TF: It was pretty difficult in the past year because I had no opportunities to practice under any circumstances in the University of Georgia. Now with Coach Joerg on board, I am confident I can combine my college studies with competing internationally. Coach Joerg helped me planned a very specific competing schedule for the next 6 months. All I have to do is follow the schedule.
INSIDER: You did not play in either of the 2017 US Nationals or US Open. What was the thinking behind that decision?
TF: I could not attend the US National because I could not practice under any circumstances. I have to drive 2 hours in order to find 2400 players. I decided not to compete because I do not want to compete in tournaments when I am not well prepared. I did not compete in the US Open because I had to take 3 finals on the day of December 21st. I tried to convince my professor, but it does not work that well in NYU. That was why I did not compete in the 2 tournaments.
INSIDER: Looking ahead to 2018 what is you competition plans and what are your goals for the year?
TF: I have signed with an Austrian Club to play the Austrian Division 1 League for the SolexConsult TTC Wiener Neustadt 1 (ANEU1) club in Vienna. I will be taking some time off to play one match and fly back in order to not miss any classes. I will also be preparing for the 2018 World Team Championships and other International Tournaments.
INSIDER: You were a 2016 Olympian in Rio. What was that like? You also got a chance with team members to meet President Obama. That must have been a great honor?
TF: It was a great honor because I have always wanted to meet President Obama. It was an unforgettable experience.
INSIDER: Do you have a goal to make the 2020 Olympic team?
TF: Yes I will try my best.