The Kidsland M25 and W25 ushered in the new ITF World Tennis Tour calendar with Frenchman Evan Furness and Ukraine’s 15-year-old Daria Lopatetska claiming the men’s and women’s singles title over the weekend at Victoria Park.
Presiding over the prize presentation ceremony was Mr. CY Lee, Chairman of Kidsland Group.
In the men’s draw, seeded players fell by the wayside fast and early with No. 1 Zsombor Piros, No. 4 Xia Zihao, and No. 6 Benjamin Hassan succumbing to straight-set losses against qualifiers in the opening round.
In the second round, No. 5 seed Denis Yevseyev, winner of the previous week’s 25K Hong Kong F3 Futures, went down against Evan Furness, 6-7(1), 6-0, 6-3. Seventh seed Jeremy Jahn followed suit with a 6-4, 6-4, setback against Shintaro Imai, while qualifier Yuki Mochizuki also got into the act and upset No. 3 seed Carlos Boluda-Purkiss, 6-3, 7-5. Another qualifier, Agustin Velotti, sent No. 2 seed Alexandre Muller packing with a 6-2, 7-6(3), upset win.
With no seeded player making it past the second round and four qualifiers reaching the quarterfinals, it was Germany’s Julian Lenz and Frenchman Evan Furness who emerged from the rubble to reach the final.
It was Furness who drew first blood to stake himself a 4-2 lead before Lenz broke back to draw even at 4-4. However, still on serve at 6-5, Lenz was forced to retire with a pulled calf muscle to concede victory.
Lenz is currently ranked at a career-high No. 395 with a pair of 10K titles to his name. He was a two-time singles All-American at Baylor University and reached No. 1 on the NCAA D1 Rankings in both singles and doubles in 2015. In 2011, he captured the US Open boys’ doubles title.
Elsewhere, in the women’s singles final, Ukraine’s 15-year-old Daria Lopatetska of Ukraine won her third career pro circuit title with a 6-4, 6-2, victory against former world No. 154 Barbora Stefkova of the Czech Republic.
This week’s event in Hong Kong was only Lopatetska’s sixth career appearance on the pro circuit.
In the opening set, Lopatetska broke serve twice in the early going but failed to consolidate, as Stefkova fought back to force a 3-3 deadlock. However, Lopatetska struck again in the penultimate game before holding serve to grab the set 6-4.
The teenager from Ukraine found her devastating serve again saved the lone break point she faced, while breaking Stefkova twice to claim the ensuing set 6-2, despite some fierce late match resistance from the Czech.
Lopatetska, the Junior Orange Bowl G12 champion in 2015, won two Grade 3 events on the junior circuit in Ukraine entering last year’s US Open as a qualifier in girls’ singles, but ended up beating American No. 1 seed Cori Gauff en route to the semifinals.
In the women’s doubles final, second-seeded Michaella Krajicek and Barbora Stefkova overcame several dodgy moments in the third set super-tiebreak before winning against Chinese Taipei’s Chen Pei Hsuan and Wu Fang-Hsien, 6-4, 6-7(3), [12-10].
After dropping the first set, teenagers Chen and Wu outplayed their higher-ranked opponents in the second set tiebreak and were on the upswing until the latter half of the third set super-tiebreak when neither team could stamp their authority in the waning moments. However, Krajicek and Stefkova, who reached career-highs of No. 23 and No. 103 respectively, stayed the course for the win after playing too tentatively on their first match point.
Krajicek was ranked as high as No. 30 in singles in 2008 and has won three singles and six doubles titles on the WTA tour. In 2004, she reached No. 1 in the girls’ rankings and became the ITF Junior World Champion.
Stefkova, aged just 23, reached No. 154 on the WTA Rankings in singles in February 2017 but chronic pain in both wrists forced her to miss the remaining nine months of that year. Although she managed to qualify for Wimbledon in 2018, finding her way back in singles still is one of her biggest goals this year.
Earlier on Saturday, Thailand’s top-seeded Sanchai and Sonchat Ratiwatana defeated No. 3 Hsu Yu Hsiou of Chinese Taipei and Shintaro Imai of Japan, 6-4, 7-6(4), to capture the men’s doubles title. The Thai pair has won twice on the ATP Tour, taking home the Thailand Open in 2007 and Chennai Open the following year. Together, they have also won a staggering 47 titles on the Challenger Circuit.
Local entries, Zhang Ling and Eudice Chong, showed glimpses of good play but were both stopped short of a place in the quarterfinals.
“They’ve worked hard during the off season and both have improved their fitness levels considerably. They had some good matches this past week with Eudice beating the 5th seed in the opening round and Lynn having plenty chances to win against a good opponent in Kilnarova in round two. Now, it’s just a matter of keep getting sharper in match situations and continuing to build on the physical aspects of their game,” said HKTA High Performance Coach, Karan Rastogi.
The ITF World Tennis Tour continues next week in Hong Kong with the China Tonghai W25 event at Victoria Park.
Kidsland M25 & W25
Victoria Park, Hong Kong
January 1-7, 2019
Evan Furness (FRA) d. Julian Lenz (GER) 6-5 Retired
(1)Sanchai/Sonchat Ratiwatana (THA) d. (3)Hsu Yu Hsiou/Shintaro Imai (TPE/JPN) 6-4 7-6(4)
Daria Lopatetska (UKR) d. Barbora Stefkova (CZE) 6-4 6-2
(2)Michaella Krajicek/Barbora Stefkova (NED/CZE) d. Chen Pei Hsuan/Wu Fang-Hsien (TPE) 6-4 6-7(3) [12-10]