Hong Kong defeats Australia 2-1 to qualify for first WJT Finals

 

With a place in the World Junior Tennis Finals at stake, Jenny Wong and Cody Wong coolly combined to win, 6-0, 6-3, in the deciding doubles against No. 3 seed Australia to put Hong Kong through to the big show for the first time.

Previously, no WJT girls' team from Hong Kong was able to progress to the Finals. The territory's best finish at the Asia/Oceania Qualifying was 6th place, which was attained first in 1992 and again in 2009.

"Congratulations to the players, team captain and coaches who have been working with them. I want to thank EFG for their continued support of junior tennis in Hong Kong. Our juniors have proven once again they can mix it up with the best of them in Asia, and with more belief and dedication, there is potential to put a name on the world stage," said HKTA President, Philip Mok.

"Great effort from our EFG Hong Kong WJT girls' team," added HKTA CEO, Chris Lai. "Particularly Cody who is still undefeated in singles, and to score a win over Australia is extremely encouraging."

The four semifinalists at the WJT Asia/Oceania Qualifying in Thailand this week - (7)Hong Kong, (1)Japan, (2)Korea, and (4)Thailand - will join other top finishers from Europe, South America, Africa, and North/Central America & Caribbean in Prostejov, Czech Republic, August 1-8 in a sixteen-team showdown for global bragging rights.

Cody Wong once again gave the team a flying start in yesterday's quarterfinals with her fourth straight victory at the beginning of the line-up against Australia by yielding a mere three games in a 6-0, 6-3, romp of Natasha Russell.

She remains undefeated in singles play thus far this week, even though she was also part of the under-16 team that competed at the Junior Fed Cup Asia/Oceania Qualifying in Sri Lanka just a fortnight ago.

Incidentally, Cody's brother, Jack, was a member of the Junior Davis Cup squad that qualified for the JDC Finals two years ago.

Although Olivia Gadecki (ITF 663), who was given a maindraw wildcard for this year's Australian Open Junior Championships, managed to pull things even with a 6-2, 6-2, win at the one spot, Jenny and Cody teamed up brilliantly to win the decisive doubles in less than 50 minutes of play.

Earlier in the week, after drawing Japan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan in Group A, Hong Kong was off to a flying start and took all three rubbers against Kyrgyzstan handily for a swift 3-0 victory.

Facing Uzbekistan on the second day, Cody Wong and Jenny Wong were once again ruthlessly efficient in disposing their opponents without coming close to dropping a set before Lin Wing Ka and Jenny Wong needed a super-tiebreak in the third to strong arm the doubles against Sevil Yuldasheva and Valentina Shlen, 6-4, 4-6, [10-8].

In the final round robin match-up against undefeated Japan, Cody Wong again gave the under-14 team an early lead when she saw off Ai Yamaguchi in straight sets, 6-4, 6-2. Japanese number one Sato Himari then levelled proceedings at one apiece when she saw off Jenny Wong, 6-2, 6-1.

In the decisive doubles, Cody Wong and Jenny Wong managed to take the second set against Sato Himari and Kajuru Oby Ange to force a third set before losing in a closely fought super-tiebreak, 6-3, 4-6, [10-7].

On paper, the 2-1 setback was a blow because with third-seeded Australia finishing atop Group C, that meant Hong Kong must beat the traditional powerhouse from Down Under in order to move on to the next round.

Natasha Russell, though modestly ranked in singles at No. 1430, had already won an ITF G4 doubles title in Queensland last summer. Earlier this month, Poulos was a finalist at the 14/u Australian Grasscourt Championships. Poulos, Russell, and Gadecki finished second, fifth, and sixth respectively at last year's 14/u Australian Championships.

Hong Kong takes on No. 2 seed Korea today for a place in the Asia/Oceania Qualifying final.

Notable past participants include Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Kei Nishikori, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, David Nalbandian, Joachim Johansson, Andy Roddick, Justine Henin, Kim Clijsters, Amelie Mauresmo, Maria Kirilenko, Agnieszka Radwanska, and Daniela Hantuchova to name a few.

Notable results from Hong Kong teams

In 2001, Martin Sayer led the boys' contingent to the WJT Finals when Hong Kong placed third after beating China at the Asia/Oceania Qualifying. The former King George V student went undefeated at number one singles during that epic week.

In 1994, Jason Sankey and Wayne Wong collaborated to beat Thailand and China in the group stage, then Chinese Taipei in the semis, before finishing second to Lleyton Hewitt's Australia. In the ensuing Finals in Yamanakako, Hong Kong beat host Japan 2-0 to settle for 13th spot. That week, Sankey defeated American No. 1 David Martin, 7-5, 6-4, to level proceedings before Martin teamed up with KJ Hippensteel to beat the HK duo in three sets in the deciding doubles.


About the ITF World Junior Tennis competition

Inaugurated by the ITF in 1991, this 14 & Under annual event offers young ballers the opportunity to experience international competition and the unique atmosphere of playing in a team environment for their country. The top 16 boys' and girls' teams from regional qualifying compete for the title with over 100 countries represented in the opening stages of the competition. The 2015 Finals were held in Prostejov, Czech Republic, where Korea (boys) and Russia (girls) emerged as the champions.

ITF World Junior Tennis - Roll of Honour


Results
WJT Asia/Oceania Qualifying
Nonthaburi, Thailand
April 25-30, 2016

Group A

(7)Hong Kong d. Kyrgyzstan 3-0
Cody Wong (HKG) d. Anastasia Filina (KYZ) 6-1 6-0
Jenny Wong (HKG) d. Myrzaiym Sherikulova (KYZ) 6-3 6-1
Jenny Wong/Lin Wing Ka (HKG) d. Anastasia Filina/Myrzaiym Sherikulova (KYZ) 6-1 6-2

(7)Hong Kong d. Uzbekistan 3-0
Cody Wong (HKG) d. Valentina Shlen (UZB) 6-0 6-0
Jenny Wong (HKG) d. Olesya Kim (UZB) 6-4 6-3
Jenny Wong/Lin Wing Ka (HKG) d. Valentina Shlen/Sevil Yuldasheva (UZB) 6-4 4-6 [10-8]

(1)Japan d. (7)Hong Kong 2-1
Cody Wong (HKG) d. Ai Yamaguchi (JPN) 6-2 6-4
Sato Himari (JPN) d. Jenny Wong (HKG) 6-2 6-1
Sato Himari/Kajuru Oby Ange (JPN) d. Jenny Wong/Cody Wong (HKG) 6-4 3-6 [10-7]


Quarterfinals

(7)Hong Kong d. (3)Australia 2-1
Cody Wong (HKG) d. Natasha Russell (AUS) 6-3 6-0
Olivia Gadecki (AUS) d. Jenny Wong (HKG) 6-2 6-2
Jenny Wong/Cody Wong (HKG) d. Olivia Gadecki/Natasha Russell (AUS) 6-0 6-3



Hong Kong advances to semifinals against Korea

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