Jack Wong, Kevin Wong, Brian Yeung, Wu Ho Ching, Maggie Ng, and Jennifer Sher were the home representatives that saw off the visiting team 4-1 to lift the inaugural Guangdong-Hong Kong Cup held at the Craigengower Cricket Club over the weekend.
Mu Tao (穆韜), Mo Yecong (莫業聰), Li Jianhui (李健輝), Xia Haitong (夏亥佟), Liu Le Yi (劉樂怡), Zhou Ye Hua (周葉華), Qu Yang (屈揚), and He Yifei (賀怡菲) represented Guangdong.
First up, in men’s singles, Jack Wong did not enjoy the strongest of starts and struggled with the conditions and his opponent’s pace, as he quickly fell behind by a double break to trail 4-0.
“I got off to a slow start and couldn’t get into the game early on in the match. After losing my first two serves, I was trying to attack but I just did not position myself well enough to string together enough meaningful points,” lamented Wong.
In the second set, the momentum seemed to be with Mu Tao, as he saved four break points to hold for 1-1 and broke Wong’s serve before he consolidated for a 3-1 lead. Trailing 3-2, Wong squandered three break points before finally breaking through to draw even 3-3. Games then went with serve until the twelfth when Mu, experiencing cramp in his playing hand, yielded serve to lose the set 7-5.
In the third, Wong belted a pair of aces to hold at love and broke Mu to lead 2-0. Although the Guangdong rep returned the favour immediately, Wong broke again for 3-1 when leg cramps beset Mu and forced him to retire.
Next up in the women’s singles, Wu Ho Ching, who won a pair of US$15,000 pro circuit singles titles in 2018, broke Liu Le Yi in the first and fifth game to propel herself to a 5-1 lead. Although the HK rep struggled with her serve towards the end to allow Liu to recover one of the earlier service breaks, it was not sufficient to stop Wu from holding serve in the tenth game to seal the set 6-4.
Wu again made the early break in the second to go up 2-1, but the 15-year-old from Guangdong turned the tables by grinding out the next five games to grab the set 6-2.
In the deciding set, the players exchanged an early break each to take proceedings to 2-2. However, in the pivotal fifth game, Liu double faulted on her first game point and then threw down another one on break point to concede her serve to trail 3-2.
Wu capitalised on the momentum shift and broke again before saving two break points in the eighth game to complete a 6-4, 2-6, 6-2, victory in two hours and twenty-four minutes.
With an overall 2-0 lead, World University Games bronze medallists Kevin Wong and Brian Yeung faced Mo Yecong and Li Jianhui in a potential match-clinching men’s doubles. However, with Wong conceding serve in the fourth game and Li managing to save the two break points on his serve, the Guangdong duo took the opener 6-3.
Although Mo remained untroubled on serve, the HK duo finally broke Li midway in the ensuing set, which was all they needed to bag it 6-3 and taking matters to a third set super-tiebreak.
With Wong and Yeung making a ton of returns on Li’s serve, the HK duo conjured a number of mini-breaks to stake the home team confidently to an unassailable 3-0 lead, 3-6, 6-3, [10-5].
“Came out of the gates a little weak and they jumped on us for an early break and took the set,” recalls Yeung. “We lost 4 deuce points, which was tough, but we managed to tighten up the screws by making more volleys and putting more pressure on our opponents. Super breaker was still anybody’s game, but we made more returns and put in more balls. That was how we won it, by playing steady, solid tennis.”
In the women’s doubles, Maggie Ng and Jennifer Sher teamed up to beat Zhou Ye Hua and Qu Yang, 6-1, 3-6, [10-5], to further Hong Kong’s lead to 4-0 before Xia Haitong and He Yifei took down Jack Wong and Wu Ho Ching in a shortened mixed doubles match-up, 7-5, to conclude a 4-1 victory for the home side in this inaugural Guangdong-Hong Kong Cup.
Although Mu Tao does not currently hold an ATP Ranking, he reached the Wimbledon boys’ singles semifinals in 2018 and later peaked at a career-high ITF No. 13. Mu, together with Xia Haitong. Li Jianhui, and Chen Long, defeated Liaoning to reach the quarterfinals in the men’s team event at the All China Games in 2017 before they were ousted by Zhang Ze’s top-seeded Jiangsu.
You Xiaodi, world ranked No. 342 in singles and No. 165 in doubles, claimed Guangdong’s only medal at the ACG two years ago. She partnered Lu Jingjing (PLA) to a bronze in women’s doubles with a decisive, 7-5, 6-3, victory over Wang Qiang and Duan Ying Ying (Tianjin) in the quarterfinals. Together, the pair have also won the WTA 125K Dalian Open in 2017 and finished runners-up at the Jiangxi Open 2018, a US$250,000 WTA International Series event.
Wang Xinyu, who holds a WTA Ranking of No. 293 and ITF Ranking of No. 7, reached the girls’ singles semis at the Australian Open and Wimbledon, while claiming the girls’ doubles at both events, last year. She also won a bronze in girls’ doubles at the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Argentina last October.
You and Wang collaborated to capture the women’s doubles at the US$60,000 event in Jinan last August, with the latter claiming both singles and doubles at the US$25,000 in Nonthaburi the following week.
Wang Xinyu and Mu Tao were also seeded 7th in mixed doubles at the YOG
1st Guangdong-Hong Kong Cup
Craigengower Cricket Club
January 19-20, 2019
Jack Wong (HKG) d. Mu Tao (Guangdong) 2-6 7-5 3-1 Retired
Wu Ho Ching (HKG) d. Liu Le Yi (Guangdong) 6-4 2-6 6-2
Kevin Wong/Brian Yeung (HKG) d. Mo Yecong/Li Jianhui (Guangdong) 3-6 6-3 [10-5]
Maggie Ng/Sher Chun Wing (HKG) d. Zhou Ye Hua/Qu Yang (Guangdong) 6-1 3-6 [10-5]
Xia Haitong/He Yifei (Guangdong) d. Jack Wong/Wu Ho Ching (HKG) 7-5