SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Sports) - When Michael Chang became the youngest grand slam tennis champion ever, winning the 1989 French Open at the age of 17, his life was changed forever. Now, Chang has come to Salt Lake City to help change the lives of other kids, playing an exhibition match Saturday night as part of the Of Love Tennis Tournament that benefits the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation at Eagleridge Tennis Club against former pro Wayne Ferreira.
"Kids when they're young want to go out and not really have a schedule, just go out and have fun," Chang said. "When you're in a situation like this, it changes the perspective."
Caden Moortgat's perspective has been changed. Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of nine, Caden has not let the disease slow him down one bit. He plays tennis with an insulin pump to monitor his blood sugar level, consistently checking it during a match, and is now one of the top-ranked junior players in the Rocky Mountain region.
"I feel like if you have support and people behind you, you can still do anything that you want to do."
Asked how it felt to practice with a former French Open champ like Michael Chang, Caden said, "it was really cool."
Chang knows all about playing for a purpose. He won the French Open right in the middle of the crisis at Tianamen Square.
"I've always felt there was a reason why [I won]," said Chang. "Being Chinese, God wanted to put a smile on on Chinese people's faces at a time when there wasn't a whole lot to smile about."
With Chang's help and others, there may be more to smile about in the future.
"We're crossing our fingers that every dollar given, that next dollar may be the dollar that finds the cure," said Caden's father, Jim.
The Of Love Tennis Tournament starts at 5:00 p.m. Saturday night at Eagleridge Tennis Club in North Salt Lake City.