- Published on Sunday, 23 July 2017 04:46
- Written by Andy Yanne
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Eudice Chong and Katherine Ip teamed up to beat Nigina Abduraimova and Akgul Amanmuradova, 6-7(1), 6-3, 6-3, to secure a 2-1 victory for Hong Kong against Uzbekistan in this year's Fed Cup Asia/Oceania Group II Final in Dushanbe.
Hong Kong will return to Group I competition in 2018.
"We just played smart today and gave them different looks," said Katherine Ip.
Her teammate, Eudice Chong, concurred, "We made the right plays at the right time, poaching well, going down the line and lobbing them when they least expected us to. We didn't miss a whole lot and it was fun."
Prior to the final, Uzbekistan came up with wins against New Zealand, Turkmenistan, and Indonesia, while Hong Kong eased past Iran, Pacific Oceania, and Malaysia.
With its No. 2 Nigina Abduraimova struggling in singles play, Uzbekistan elected to go with veteran Akgul Amanmuradova in the opening singles.
The ploy paid handsomely, as the former world No. 50 beat Eudice Chong, 6-2, 6-4, to give the top-seeded Uzbeks a flying 1-0 start.
Unfazed with a must win situation against No. 145 Sabina Sharipova, the highest-ranked player in Dushanbe this week, Zhang Ling played no-nonsense tennis to overcome an erratic and error-strewn opponent, 6-4, 6-1, to send the tie to a deciding doubles.
"I was super nervous while I was watching Eudice's match, but once I got on court, I felt good to go. I just tried to fight for every ball and focused on what I had to do. I think overall we had great team spirit and all the players really enjoyed playing together," said Zhang Ling.
Although the 6-foot-plus pairing of Abduraimova and Amanmuradova took the opening set in a tiebreak, Eudice Chong and Katherine Ip kept up the pressure with increasing quality play.
From 2-2 in the final set, three successive breaks of serve ensued until Hong Kong held again for a 5-3 lead before breaking Abduraimova to wrap up proceedings, 6-7(1), 6-3, 6-3.
"The deciding doubles was getting tense and nervous towards the end. Conditions this week, with the courts and high altitude, it was tough for everyone. We were one of the earliest teams to arrive and acclimatized perhaps a little better," said a relieved Captain, Yu Hiu Tung.
"However, the girls did extremely well to come through especially after having dropped the first set against much higher-ranked opponents, so all credit to them," he added.
In April 2007, Venise Chan and Zhang Ling shocked Iroda Tulyaganova and Akgul Amanmuradova in singles to give Hong Kong a big win against Uzbekistan that ultimately led to a three-way tie for first place in Pool A of Asia/Oceania Group I that year.
Unfortunately, a count-back with Thailand and the Uzbeks resulted in the team settling for a 5th-6th place playoff against New Zealand.
Just four months prior to that encounter, Tulyaganova and Amanmuradova beat Li Na and Zheng Jie in singles respectively to knock China out of the women's team event at the 2006 Asian Games in Doha.
Hong Kong last competed in Group I in 2015 when the side lost in the relegation playoff against Hsieh Su-Wei and Chan Yung-Jan's Chinese Taipei.
Zhang Ling is now the all-time leader in Most Total Wins(36), Most Singles Wins(27), Most Doubles Wins(9), Most Ties Played(40), and Most Years Played(10) in the Fed Cup for Hong Kong.
Fed Cup Asia/Oceania Group II
July 17-23, 2017
Hong Kong defeated Iran 3-0
R1 Eudice Chong (HKG) d. Sadaf Sadeghvaziri (IRI) 6-1 6-1
R2 Zhang Ling (HKG) d. Ghazal Pakbaten (IRI) 6-0 6-2
R3 Katherine Ip/Ng Kwan Yau (HKG) d. Sara Amiri/Yasmin Mansouri (IRI) 6-1 6-3
Hong Kong defeated Pacific Oceania 3-0
R1 Eudice Chong (HKG) d. Steffi Carruthers (POC) 7-5 6-3
R2 Zhang Ling (HKG) d. Abigail Tere-Apisah (POC) 6-4 6-4
R3 Katherine Ip/Ng Kwan Yau (HKG) d. Carol Youngsuh Lee/Mayka Zima (POC) 6-4 6-4
Hong Kong defeated Malaysia 3-0
R1 Eudice Chong (HKG) d. Aslina Ping (MAS) 6-1 6-0
R2 Zhang Ling (HKG) d. Theiviya Selvarajoo (MAS) 6-0 6-1
R3 Katherine Ip/Ng Kwan Yau (HKG) d. Aslina Ping/Uma Nayar (MAS) 6-0 6-1
Hong Kong defeated Uzbekistan 2-1
R1 Akgul Amanmuradova (UZB) d. Eudice Chong (HKG) 6-2 6-4
R2 Zhang Ling (HKG) d. Sabina Sharipova (UZB) 6-4 6-1
R3 Katherine Ip/Eudice Chong (HKG) d. Nigina Abduraimova/Akgul Amanmuradova (UZB) 6-7(1) 6-3 6-3