Vancouver, BC – For 88 years now, the Leith Wheeler Stanley Park Open (LWSPO) has been a tradition in the British Columbia tennis community. Many players have been playing at the Park for decades, and we love seeing them come back every year. One such player is local legend and now Men’s 35+ Singles World No. 1 player, Henry Choi, who has been playing at the Park for over a decade in the Men’s Open category. Since 2008, Henry has won the Men’s Singles title at the LWSPO 5 times, making him the winningest player in recorded Men’s Open Singles history at the LWSPO.
Henry started playing tennis at the age of 6 at Rosedale Tennis Club in his hometown of Hamilton, Ontario. As a junior, Henry played in the Ontario Tennis Association junior circuit tournaments and was consistently ranked No. 1 between the ages of 12 and 18. He was a Top 5 junior player in Canada, with his highest Canadian junior ranking being No. 2 in the U16 and U18 categories. Growing up, Henry was coached by Mike Kool at the Rosedale Tennis Club. To this day, Henry considers him his coach and says, “He’s like a second dad to me.”
Following his junior career, Henry had the opportunity to play Division 1 NCAA tennis on scholarship at Indiana State University. There, he played as high as No. 1 singles and doubles for the Sycamores. Upon graduation Henry continued to travel playing Open-level events in North America.
In 2006, Henry moved to Vancouver where he started coaching at the Vancouver Lawn Tennis and Badminton Club with then Director of Tennis, Russ Hartley. It wasn’t until the age of 28 when he met his now wife, Christine Olejnik, that he tried playing professionally. Christine encouraged him to try the professional circuit where he reached a career high ranking of 1094 in Men’s ATP Singles.
Following his professional career, Henry continued to compete regularly in BC Open events and the ITF Seniors Tour. Henry has won an impressive 24 Men’s Open Singles titles in BC. In 2017, he won both the Vancouver Lawn Masters Men’s 35 Singles and the BC Senior Provincial Championships. The following year in 2018, he would win the Provincials once again and this year, he won the Masters 35+ category again. Henry opted not to play at the 2019 Provincials, and instead compete in the Mont Tremblant Cup ITF Men’s 35 Singles event, which he won both singles and doubles in. Following this win, Henry reached the No. 1 ranking in the world in the Men’s 35+ Singles category, making him the first British Columbian to achieve this ranking.
Henry first set his eyes on the world No. 1 ranking when he played in the World Championships last October in Miami Beach, Florida. Some of the competitors in the Men’s 35+ singles category still had ATP points and in the Round of 16, Henry beat then world No. 1 player Luca Serena of Italy. “Once I beat him, I felt like I had a chance to get there.” Returning home from his inspirational trip, Henry studied the ITF Senior tour, rankings and events. He put together a competitive schedule that would make it possible to reach the No. 1 ranking and set out to do so. Fast forward less than a year later, and Henry has reached his goal of becoming the No. 1 ranked played in the ITF Men’s 35+ singles category. How’s that for an inspiration?
What’s next for Henry? “To be honest, one of my main goals is to spend more time with my family. It’s a very important goal of mine in the next couple of years.” Henry and Christine have twin sons, Henry and Stanley. Henry, named after his father and Stanley, named after Stanley Park, where Christine and Henry share many memories together on and off the court. Christine is also a regular competitor in the BC tournament circuit and an active member of the tennis community in BC.
In addition to his competitive tennis, Henry is the Director of Racquets and Athletics at the Richmond Country Club. Since 2011, he has been coaching club members of all ages and levels, including high performance juniors. “RCC has come a long way in the last 6-7 years. We have really grown as a club. From adult to juniors, all of our programs have really skyrocketed.”
When asked about his most memorable moment throughout his tennis career thus far, Henry says, “Certainly the Park stands out. I have won the title there 5 times. It’s memorable to me because it’s one of the biggest tournaments in Vancouver. It really helped build my name, and paved the way for who I am today, most recently, reaching the No. 1 ranking.”
This year, Henry plans to return to the Park once again. He will be competing in the Men’s Open Singles category, and likely the Men’s Open Doubles with Jeremy Salvo. “I like the atmosphere out there. It’s a bit different, it’s a bit of spectacle, but it brings energy to the Park. I feed off that.”
The 88th edition of the Leith Wheeler Stanley Park Open is taking place July 5-21, 2019 at the Stanley Park Tennis Courts. Learn more and register at StanleyParkOpen.com.
Men’s Open Singles Singles
Open Mens Doubles
Open Mixed Doubles
Senior 35 Men’s Singles
Senior 35 Men’s Doubles