Zhongming Liu has been watching tennis matches on television for more than a decade. He was completely consumed by the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and the reporters who brought the action into his living room. He watched live coverage of the Australian Open for the first time in 2010, dreaming of standing in Melbourne Park with a microphone in his hand and a renowned player to his right.
“I fell in love with this sport that requires players to pursue precision, power, movement [and] mental stability,” said Liu. “I was dreaming that I could be a sports journalist someday in the future.”
Fast forward to 2018, and this Journalism senior’s dream is coming true. Last summer, Liu was a sports reporting intern for iQIYI, an online video platform based in Beijing. Making strong connections at that internship led him to the opportunity of a lifetime: covering the 2018 Australian Open.
While at his internship, Liu worked hard to produce daily news and feature stories, got the chance to host several weekly tennis programs and served as a commentator for a handful of matches. In November 2017, Liu received a message from his boss asking if he had time in January to cover the Australian Open for iQIYI. He couldn’t believe his luck.
“I was like, ‘What? Are you kidding me? Is that real?’” said Liu. “I just couldn’t imagine I was selected to cover the Grand Slam event, the most prestigious tournament in the world of tennis. I really appreciated their support and their confidence in me.”
Liu joined their sports channel to cover the tournament from the start of qualifying to the end of the first week. With the help of a camera operator, he produced daily news updates and conducted one-on-one interviews with various athletes. Liu describes the experience as overwhelming, as he had to run from the TV compound to the interview rooms to the media center to be courtside at both the major arenas and outdoor courts.
“It was a lot during the first few days in the Grand Slam because 128 singles players compete in a single day, which means 64 matches take place on 16 courts in just about 12 hours,” said Liu. “There were five Chinese players playing on the main draw this year, and some of the matches were overlapping with each other so we had to make a Plan A and Plan B depending on the progress of each match.”
Liu conducted interviews with several tennis superstars, like Novak Djokovic. After capturing footage, he would go back to the TV compound to edit video and promptly transfer it back to China.
Chasing the Dream
Liu’s most memorable moment from his trip was sitting down one-on-one with Djokovic, former world No. 1. After following the sport for years, Liu was nervous to interview one of the most well-known figures in tennis, but he focused on remaining professional.
“My interview just happened the day after he claimed the first win after coming back on court at a warm-up event,” said Liu. “I did a lot of homework the night before and I told myself the most important thing is to relax and just take it easy.”
Liu has already received a job offer from iQIYI and plans to join their team following graduation. Like the company itself, he hopes to build the biggest professional tennis network in China and bring premium content to tennis fans.
“My ultimate goal is to serve as a commentator and share the most exciting matches with our audience, so I am really honored to pursue the dream with the iQIYI team,” said Liu.
There would be no dream to chase without passion, and that’s something Liu has plenty of. Without it, graduates may have a hard time finding their stride in the industry.
“[Find] what you love, something that you can’t live without,” said Liu. “I fell in love with tennis in 2010. In the past eight years, I played tennis every week, followed tennis every day and pursued my dream every second.”
By Kaitlin Dudlets