Kevin Wong defeated No. 4 seed Brian Yeung in straight sets, 6-3, 6-3, to win his maiden SCAA Open singles title on Sunday at King’s Park. Elsewhere, top-seeded defending champion Maggie Ng cantered through the draw and saw off Ki Yan Tung, 6-1, 6-1, to win a record-breaking seven consecutive ladies’ singles titles.
In the men’s final showdown, No. 2 seed Kevin Wong, who lost to Brian Yeung in the semis, 5-7, 7-5, 6-3, twelve months ago, enjoyed the perfect start when he broke his opponent’s first service game and then swiftly consolidating for a quick-fire 3-0 lead. After both players held confidently to take the score to 4-1, Yeung’s serve was under siege again in the sixth game where he double faulted at 15-30 to hand Wong a pair of break points. Although Yeung saved them both, he wasted a pair of game points, sandwiched between another break point, before he finally held serve following the sixth deuce.
Wong, visibly annoyed with himself for letting all those chances slip by, played poorly in the ensuing game to lose serve tamely to allow Yeung back on serve with Wong still up 4-3. However, Wong quickly found his forehand again late in this set to dictate play when it mattered most, and broke Yeung to love for a 5-3 advantage. The second seed duly served out for the set, 6-3.
Wong began the second set with a new-found urgency and his deep, penetrating forehands kept Yeung chasing for shots deep behind his own baseline. Losing just one point on serve in his first two service games, Wong broke the No. 4 seed twice in succession to jump out to a whopping 4-0 advantage. Games then went with serve until the eighth game when Wong had two match points leading 5-2, 40-15. Rather unexpectedly, the No. 2 seed threw down a double fault before he was taken to deuce three times after which Yeung took his chance to make a match-saving break, 5-3. In a final twist of events, Wong broke serve without the loss of a point to wrap up his maiden SCAA Open men’s singles crown in one hour and twenty minutes.
“I think one of the keys to today’s final was that he didn’t serve that well during the course of the match and I managed to put pressure on his service games consistently and it paid off for me,” said Kevin Wong.
“Singles was a tough one today,” said Yeung. “I was on my heels most of the time. Yeah, he was utilising his forehands pretty well, and I found myself stuck in tough rallies with him where he dictated play a lot of the times.”
“I couldn’t find any length with my forehands and they were landing too short, while he was pushing me back further with his shots and he took advantage by stepping up to finish off a lot of the points. I did try to isolate his backhand more and that did win me some points, but I found it hard to come in against him today. He had a lot of depth. There were chances, but I just couldn’t convert. Credit to him, he played a good match.”
With last year’s CRC Open title already in the pocket, Wong can complete his set of local majors with a win at the Hong Kong Nationals, a tournament won by Jack Wong in April.
Over in the doubles, the lone break of serve in the first set came in the third game when Lee Hsin-Han managed to save a pair of break points to force deuce before they lost the sudden-death point to trail 2-1. Kevin Wong consolidated the break to love for a 3-1 lead, an advantage that was only threatened in the sixth game when Jack Wong fell behind 15-40 on his serve. Fortunately for him, he won three points in a row to hold serve. With servers dominating proceedings, Wong and Wong bagged the opening set, 6-4.
In the second set, Kevin Wong’s serving woes reared its ugly head again, something he has been struggling with since the start of the tournament. He yielded his serve twice, in the second and sixth games, as Brian Yeung and Lee Hsin-Han went on a three-game run at either end of the set to win it, 6-1.
Trailing by two mini-breaks and a 5-1 deficit in the third set super-tiebreak, Yeung and Lee strong-armed the next five points to establish a 6-5 lead. It developed into a seesaw battle, with Kevin Wong holding serve on the next couple of points to lead 7-6. Lee Hsin-Han then held on to his two to bring the score to 8-7. After Jack Wong held the next point to force an 8-8 impasse, Brian Yeung and Lee Hsin-Han produced a mini-break to lead 9-8. Brian Yeung then held the next point for the set and the match, 4-6, 6-1, [10-8].
“Doubles was fun. My partner definitely helped me out a lot towards the end and got us over the finish line. We did start well, got broken early, but we gathered our ground in the second set. We took advantage of several of their misses and we were back in the game. Down 5-1 in the super-breaker, we figured there was nothing to lose so we just went for it. Glad we managed to come back and win it. Overall, I had a good week. Compared to last year, I think a lot of progress have been made in terms of my game and mentality,” said Brian Yeung.
The demise of Jack Wong (2015-2017) in this year’s semifinals meant his three-year reign has come to a halt. Previously, only Tau Luu (1974-1976), Michael Walker (1989-1991), and Phillip King (2011-2014) have captured three or more successive men’s singles titles at SCAA.
Earlier, No. 1 seed Maggie Ng defeated 2011 champion Ki Yan Tung in straight sets, 6-1, 6-1, to win her record-breaking seventh SCAA Open ladies ‘ singles title. Only Ellinore Lightbody (1986-1989) has won four or more consecutive ladies’ singles titles at SCAA.
King’s Park, Kowloon
Oct 20-29, 2018
(2)Kevin Wong d. (4)Brian Yeung 6-3 6-3
(1)Maggie Ng d. (2)Ki Yan Tung 6-1 6-1
(2)Brian Yeung/Lee Hsin-Han d. (1)Kevin Wong/Jack Wong 4-6 6-1 [10-8]
(1)Maggie Ng/Justine Leong d. (2)Ki Yan Tung/Avril Look 6-1 6-4
(2)David Hsu/Sher Chun Wing d. Andy Lau/Chattida Thimjapo 6-3 7-6(5)