The boys’ under-16 team of Coleman Wong, Tim Gauntlett, Oscar Wai, and Stephan Ehritt (Captain) collaborated to propel Hong Kong to second place at the Asia/Oceania Qualifying over the weekend to earn the side a coveted spot at this year’s Junior Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Finals.
Hong Kong will be competing against some of the best teams from Europe, Asia/Oceania, South America, North/Central America & The Caribbean, and Africa at the Junior Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Finals, to be held at the USTA National Campus at Lake Nona, Florida from September 25-30. The last time USA hosted the Junior Davis and Fed Cup Finals was 1994 in Tucson, Arizona.
Previously, Hong Kong’s best result at the Asia/Oceania Qualifying was also a second place finish to Australia back in 2001 when the Jack Hui and Brian Hung-led side was seeded No. 1.
“During the week, the team stuck together and grew, becoming more professional, and living up to their potential more each day. Although it was physically and mentally demanding for the team, we fought impressively and pulled through. I am full of anticipation on what we can do in the Finals,” said an elated Team Captain, Stephan Ehritt.
“I’m very happy with the result we got as a team. It’s very rewarding to have the opportunity to compete for my country and qualify again for the finals this year! We’ve all worked very hard and it’s the best feeling to see how everyone put it all in to get to the next level. Very much looking forward to the Finals in the US in September,” Coleman Wong enthused.
“It was really fun and an honour to play for Hong Kong again in the Junior Davis Cup. It was mentally tough to play under the heat and against the raucous crowd support from the opposing teams,” said Tim Gauntlett. “It feels amazing to finish second after coming fourth last year. I can’t wait to compete against the best players in the world and I will work even harder to prepare myself for the Finals.”
Oscar Wai remarked, “We had a great week here in Thailand. It was tough for us to play under this hot and humid condition, but we managed to fight through. We are all looking forward to Lake Nona.”
Hong Kong was initially drawn in Group B together with No. 7 seed Korea, Sri Lanka, and Uzbekistan. With strong play from Wong (ITF No. 287) and Gauntlett (ITF No. 465) in singles, the team registered three consecutive shut-outs in the round robins to advance to the quarterfinals.
In a must-win against New Zealand, Gauntlett gave Hong Kong the perfect start with a 6-2, 6-4, win against Aukly Wang at No. 2 singles, but Corban Crowther (ITF No. 303) turned the tables on Wong with a 6-3, 7-5, decision to level the tie at one-all.
However, Wong caught fire in the doubles and his great chemistry with Gauntlett saw the HK duo beat Crowther and Wang in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4, to seal the team’s qualification to the Junior Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Finals for the second year running.
Then, in the semis against surprise package Syria, Oscar Wai made his debut in singles and saw off Pierre Djaroueh when his opponent had to retire due to injury while trailing, 6-1, 1-0. Wong then beat Taym Alazmeh, 6-2, 6-2, at the one spot to complete the 2-0 victory.
Alazmeh was instrumental in the demise of No. 8 seed China during the round robins and the upset of No. 4 seed Thailand in the knockout stage, as the Syrian No. 1 took both singles and doubles against the pair of powerhouses.
In a repeat of the 2001 Asia/Oceania Qualifying final, Australia defeated Hong Kong to claim first place. With Gauntlett retiring against Philip Sekulic, Wong managed to take the first set against Cooper White before the Aussie number one came back to win, 2-6, 6-1, 6-3, to give No. 3 seed Australia a 2-0 triumph.
Top seed Japan, a team boasting world No. 38 Shintaro Mochizuki and No. 175 Kokoro Isomura, lost to third seed Australia somewhat unexpectedly in the semis, even though its passage to Lake Nona had already been assured. World No. 576 Philip Sekulic beat Isomura, 7-6(10), 3-6, 6-1, in a three-hour battle, which was followed by No. 240 Cooper White’s, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, upset of Mochizuki.
Mochizuki defeated USA’s Martin Damm to win the J1 San Jose earlier in January, but the American has since reached the finals at the JA Porto Alegre and JB1 Indian Wells to rise to a new career-high No. 20. Gauntlett went down against Damm during last year’s Finals in Budapest on clay, 4-6, 7-5, 6-4, and the 6-foot-6 huge-serving lefty is expected to spearhead Team USA’s challenge this September on home soil. Damm is the reigning USTA 16s National Championship titleholder.
Meanwhile, eighth-seeded China could only muster a 11th place finish at this year’s Asia/Oceania Qualifying without its top player Wang Xiao-Fei, who is ranked No. 142 in the world.
After capturing a pair of Grade 5 events in the first half of 2018, Wong started to pick up steam in the latter half and ended the year with a bang by lifting the Junior Orange Bowl B14 singles title in spectacular fashion where he beat the top 2 Americans, Bruno Kuzuhara and Victor Lilov, back-to-back in the semis and final.
Lilov was the Junior Orange Bowl B12 singles champion in 2016 and captured the prestigious Les Petit As title in 2018. Kuzuhara won the B14 singles title at the USTA National Championships − Easter Bowl last year.
Prior to this campaign, Hong Kong advanced to its first Junior Davis Cup Finals in 2001, followed by subsequent qualifications in 2011, 2014, 2015, and 2018.
About the Junior Davis Cup
The Junior Davis Cup is the International Tennis Federation Team Championships for boys aged 16 and Under. It was launched in 1985 as the World Youth Cup and later re-branded in 2002 as the Junior Davis Cup by BNP Paribas.
This age bracket was chosen as a critical period in a player’s development and gave an opportunity for young players to enjoy a taste of the special demands of team membership in a competitive environment. Except for the host nation, every team must compete in tough regional qualifying competitions each year to make it through to the Finals. This year, six teams from Europe, four from Asia/Oceania, and two each from South America, North/Central America & The Caribbean, and Africa will constitute the elite 16-team line-up.
Notable past participants of the Junior Davis Cup included Jim Courier, Michael Chang, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Gustavo Kuerten, Marat Safin, Roger Federer, Lleyton Hewitt, Andy Roddick, Rafael Nadal, and Alexander Zverev.
Junior Davis & Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Finals 2018 (Oct 3, 2018)
Boys to battle world’s best at Junior Davis Cup Finals (Apr 18, 2018)
Junior Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Qualifying
April 8-13, 2019
Round Robins (Group B)
(2)Hong Kong defeated Uzbekistan 3-0
R1 Tim Gauntlett (HKG) d. Maksim Shin (UZB) 6-1 6-3
R2 Coleman Wong (HKG) d. Samandar Abdumalikov (UZB) 6-3 6-1
R3 Tim Gauntlett/Oscar Wai (HKG) d. Samandar Abdumalikov/Abdurakhmon Saidmukhamedov (UZB) 6-3 6-0
(2)Hong Kong defeated Sri Lanka 3-0
R1 Tim Gauntlett (HKG) d. Chaturya Nilaweera (SRI) 6-3 6-2
R2 Coleman Wong (HKG) d. Dhilvan Herath (SRI) 6-1 6-1
R3 Tim Gauntlett/Coleman Wong (HKG) d. Chaturya Nilaweera/Thehan Wijemanne (SRI) 6-2 6-1
(2)Hong Kong defeated (7)Korea 3-0
R1 Tim Gauntlett (HKG) d. Jeon Je Won (KOR) 6-3 6-3
R2 Coleman Wong (HKG) d. Jang Yun-Seok (KOR) 7-5 6-4
R3 Tim Gauntlett/Oscar Wai (HKG) d. Jeon Je Won/Yoon Hyeon-Deok (KOR) 6-4 Retired
(2)Hong Kong defeated New Zealand 2-1
R1 Tim Gauntlett (HKG) d. Aukly Wang (NZL) 6-2 6-4
R2 Corban Crowther (NZL) d. Coleman Wong (HKG) 6-3 7-5
R3 Tim Gauntlett/Coleman Wong (HKG) d. Corban Crowther/Aukly Wang (NZL) 6-3 6-4
(2)Hong Kong defeated Syria 2-0
R1 Oscar Wai (HKG) d. Pierre Djaroueh (SYR) 6-1 1-0 Retired
R2 Coleman Wong (HKG) d. Taym Alazemeh (SYR) 6-2 6-2
R3 Tim Gauntlett/Coleman Wong (HKG) v. Taym Alazemeh/Pierre Djaroueh (SYR) DNP
(3)Australia defeated (2)Hong Kong 2-0
R1 Philip Sekulic (AUS) d. Tim Gauntlett (HKG) 6-3 3-0 Retired
R2 Cooper White (AUS) d. Coleman Wong (HKG) 2-6 6-1 6-3
R3 Philip Sekulic/Cooper White (AUS) v. Tim Gauntlett/Coleman Wong (HKG) DNP
FINAL POSITIONS (Bracket denotes seeding):