Over in Florida, Coleman Wong saw off highly-touted American top seed Victor Lilov, 7-6(3), 6-4, in the final to become the first player from Hong Kong to capture the Junior Orange Bowl boys’ under-14 singles title.
“Today was a very special day for me,” Coleman enthused. “It’s an incredible honour for me to represent Hong Kong in the final of the Junior Orange Bowl, so I really wanted to finish strong and fought hard to take home the title!”
Earlier in the quarterfinals, Coleman was just a point away from defeat when he was down match point trailing 6-5 in the third set tiebreak against unseeded Sebastian Gornzy before he came through unscathed, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6(6).
During the past twelve months, Coleman won the Grade 5s in Hong Kong and Saipan, and reached the Grade 4 final in Kaohsiung to peak at No. 320 on the ITF Junior Rankings. He was also a member of Hong Kong’s Junior Davis Cup squad together with Tim Gauntlett and Lam Chun that reached the World Finals in Budapest back in September.
Lilov, meanwhile, won the prestigious Les Petit As tournament in France (the unofficial under-14 world championships) this year and later signed with Top Five Management, the agency that represents Elina Svitolina, Dayana Yastremska, Daria Kasatkina, and Daniil Medvedev, among others. The Bulgarian-American was also the Junior Orange Bowl B12 champion in 2016 and reached the round of sixteen at the USTA Boys’ 16 National Clay Court Championships this July.
Earlier in the semifinals, Coleman came from a set down to beat No. 2 seed Bruno Kuzuhara, 6-7(5), 6-1, 6-4. Kuzuhara had already won a pair of ITF Grade 5s earlier this year at Nassau and Santo Domingo, as well as the B14 singles title at the USTA National Championships − Easter Bowl.
Lilov and Kuzuhara combined to lead USA to a dominant win at this year’s ITF World Junior Tennis competition in Prostejov, where they went undefeated in both singles and doubles. The Americans whitewashed every opponent they faced during the finals.
The Junior Orange Bowl International Tennis Championship is one of the most recognizable tennis tournaments in the world. Since 1948, a who’s who of the best under-12 and under-14 junior players have journeyed to Florida annually to compete in this event.
Notable B14 participants of the Junior Orange Bowl include Andre Agassi (Runner-up, 1983), Jim Courier (Runner-up, 1984), Tommy Haas (Champion, 1992), Fernando Gonzalez (Runner-up, 1994), Jimmy Wang (Champion, 1999), and Juan Martin del Potro (Champion, 2002).
HKTA Hall of Fame inductee Kelvin Ng, a former Hong Kong junior No. 1 who later played and captained the Davis Cup team, went as far as the Orange Bowl B16 quarterfinals before Paul Annacone edged him in a third set tiebreak.
Former Hong Kong Davis Cupper and ATP Touring pro, John Hui, who reached a career-best ITF Junior Ranking of No. 21, beat Simon Larose and second seed Alberto Martin before he went down against future world number one Sebastien Grosjean in the last sixteen of the Orange Bowl B16s in 1993.
Ex-Hong Kong Fed Cupper and 1987 Wimbledon girls’ doubles finalist, Paulette Moreno, was a G12 quarterfinalist at the Junior Orange Bowl.
57th Junior Orange Bowl International
Coral Gables, Florida, USA
December 9-18, 2018
Boys’ 14U Singles
(3)Coleman Wong (HKG) d. Yoni Bidny (ISR) 6-1 6-4
(3)Coleman Wong (HKG) d. Waleed Qadir (USA) 6-2 6-4
(3)Coleman Wong (HKG) d. (LL)Mark Taranov (USA) 6-3 6-2
(3)Coleman Wong (HKG) d. (9)Rashed Naif (QAT) 6-3 7-6(3)
(3)Coleman Wong (HKG) d. Sebastian Gorzny (USA) 4-6 6-2 7-6(6)
(3)Coleman Wong (HKG) d. (2)Bruno Kuzuhara (USA) 6-7(5) 6-1 6-4
(3)Coleman Wong (HKG) d. (1)Victor Lilov (USA) 7-6(3) 6-4