- Published on Friday, 02 August 2019 09:35
- Written by Andy Yanne
As IC of Hong Kong played host to the Asia/Oceania Junior Challenge for the first time at the Hong Kong Country Club, Japan (4-0) dominated the field to finish first overall, followed by India (3-1) in second. With a pair of good wins, Hong Kong (2-2) placed third ahead of Australia (1-3) and Pakistan (0-4).
Japan will join the other Regional Challenge winners from Europe, Africa, South America, and North America/Caribbean at The Worldwide Finals in La Jolla, California, USA, in 2020.
"It was wonderful to see the young players of Hong Kong and other Asia/Oceania countries participating in this IC event. Through competition, friendship has been made. Hands across the net, friendship across the ocean," IC of Hong Kong Honorary Secretary, Dr. Kelvin Inge, reflected.
Former Davis Cupper and IC of Hong Kong member, Randall King, who was the Master of Ceremonies for the official Welcoming Dinner, commented, "Great success, wonderful tennis, and life learning opportunity for all."
Against Chinese Taipei in 1984, Dr. Kelvin Inge and Randall King combined to strong-arm the crucial doubles before Dr. Inge won the fifth and deciding rubber against Liu Chung-Hsing to clinch Hong Kong's maiden Davis Cup tie victory. Dr. Inge was also the first player to win a Davis Cup rubber for Hong Kong when he beat Manuel Valleramos of Philippines in 1982. In 1985, Dr. Inge became the first player to win three live rubbers in a Davis Cup tie for Hong Kong in a 3-2 victory over Singapore.
At the Hong Kong Country Club against Japan, the home team's Ophelia Tang and Butter Cheung took the opening set 4-0 in the girls' doubles before Moeka Miyata and Ayaka Hasegawa came back to win in a third set super-tiebreak, 0-4, 4-1, [10-6]. In singles, Butter Cheung won the second set to force a third set super-tiebreak before Japan claimed another close encounter, 4-1, 2-4, [10-8].
Against India, the girls again played tough in the doubles before losing to Sanjana Sirimalla (ITF No. 682) and Anjali Rathi in the third, 4-2, 2-4, [10-7]. In boys' singles, Oscar Wai took down Sushant Dabas, 5-4(4), 1-4, [10-8], to register the local contingent's only point on the board in a 5-1 setback.
Hong Kong (2-2) was never in serious trouble against Australia (1-3) and Pakistan (0-4) and picked up two solid wins to finish in third place behind Japan (4-0) and India (3-1).
At the official prize presentation ceremony on the final evening, IC of Hong Kong Honorary Secretary, Dr. Kelvin Inge, and HKTA President, Philip Mok, presented the Champions and Runners-up medals to Japan and India, while Charlie Pade (AUS) and Ayaka Hasegawa (JPN) were presented with the Sportsmanship Awards.
Over time, IC has evolved into a worldwide movement that promotes international goodwill and social values through tennis. Many sees the IC as an avenue to rekindle or maintain their links with the game, as well as being an opportunity to give something back to the sport they love.
Besides incorporating Rod Laver's name into the event's title starting this year, a number of former top-ranked players have chimed in, such as Evonne Goolagong, whose Foundation is helping to send a team of indigenous Australian juniors to Hong Kong. Gabriella Sabatini, a recent recipient of the CQS Jean Borotra IC Sportsmanship award, has made a donation to this year’s South American Regional Event and has also participated in a clinic for disadvantaged kids that is run at the events. In the North American Regional Event former ATP doubles No. 1 player Mark Knowles' charity has helped support travel for the Bahamas Junior team players.
The Australasian Junior Challenge was first played in Sydney in 2005, with participating teams from Australia, Japan, Malaysia (not an IC country), and New Zealand, who won the event and went on to claim the Worldwide Finals the following year. In 2007, the Asian Junior Challenge was first played in New Delhi, India. Teams that took part included India, Malaysia, Pakistan and Uzbekistan (not an IC country), who ended up winning the event, while the runners-up were India.
The format of the IC Junior Challenge is unique in that each match consists of two boys' singles matches, two girls' singles, and one each of boys' and girls' doubles. In the event of a 3-3 tie, e.g., when Great Britain was facing Germany in the last match of the 2010 Worldwide Finals, a mixed doubles super-tiebreak will determine the outcome.
"The IC of Hong Kong and HKTA would like to extend a heartfelt gratitude to the Hong Kong Country Club and Chairman, Dr. Harry Lee, for their support in the staging the IC Rod Laver Junior Challenge 2019. They provided not only the courts and other club amenities, such as locker room facilities, etc., but all the meals for the participating teams as well. Their hospitality is much appreciated," Dr. Inge added.
With great competitive spirit all week at The Hong Kong Country Club, players truly exhibited the IC motto of "Hands across the net, friendship across the ocean".
Lee Hsin-Han (Captain), Johnny Lee, Oscar Wai, Butter Cheung, and Ophelia Tang.
Anzac Leidig (Captain), Isaac King, Charlie Pade, Logan Paulson, and Kaecia Beattie.
Hidekazu Nagashima (Captain), Reiya Komagata, Masaki Ishikawa, Moeka Miyata, and Ayaka Hasegawa.
Jaideep Bhatia (Captain), Sushant Dabas, Divesh Gahlot, Sanjana Sirimalla, and Anjali Rathi.
Muhammad Khalid Rehmani (Captain), Hasheesh Kumar, Muhammad Yahya, Varsha Das, and Varisha Khan.
|IC Asia/Oceania Challenge History|
|IC Worldwide Finals History|
|2006||Homebush, Australia||New Zealand||France|
|2008||Auckland, New Zealand||New Zealand||South Africa|
|2010||New Delhi, India||Great Britain||Germany|
|2012||Adelaide, Australia||South Africa||Argentina|
|2016||Monte Carlo, Monaco||Spain||Japan|