Hong Kong claims 1st place at World Junior Tennis A/O Qualifying

 

After dramatic, last minute victories over Australia and Korea in the previous two rounds, the Hong Kong under-14 girls' team of Cody Wong, Jenny Wong, and Lin Wing Ka beat top-seeded Asian tennis powerhouse Japan 2-1 to claim 1st place at the World Junior Tennis Asia/Oceania Qualifying in Thailand today.

"Our juniors have proven once again they can compete with the best of them in Asia, and with more belief and dedication, there is potential to put a name on the world stage," enthused HKTA President, Philip Mok.

"We had an idea before the tournament that they might do well, but to win it all is just beyond everyone's expectations," the President continued. "We would probably have a small celebration when they return but it's important that we see this only as an encouragement that would give all players the belief that anything is possible if giving it all in."

Previously, no girls' team from Hong Kong was able to advance 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.

A total of 16 teams from the five qualification zones - Asia/Oceania, Africa, North/Central America & Caribbean, South America, and Europe - will vie for the title at WJT Finals in Prostejov, Czech Republic, scheduled for August 1-6.

Cody Wong, who turned fourteen just last month, gave Hong Kong the perfect start when she dominated Japanese number two, Ai Yamaguchi, in straight sets, 6-3, 6-1, to secure an early 1-0 lead.

"She maintained a high level of play throughout the match. She was able to pick up her opponent's habits and tendencies and used them to her advantage. We dictated the rallies and her anticipation, movement, and shot selection were excellent today," reports Team Captain, Leo Liu.

Cody Wong remains a perfect 6-0 at number two singles, with wins over Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Japan (twice), Australia, and Korea in the competition this week.

However, Himari Sato, world ranked No. 203 and easily the most polished player in Thailand this week, proved too strong for Jenny Wong, as the Japanese No. 1 dropped just one game in their encounter to pull her team back to one-all.

For the third successive match, the outcome came down to the deciding doubles. Yet not even a rain delay late in the second set could stop the pairing of Jenny Wong and Cody Wong beating Himari Sato and Ange Oby Kajuru, 6-3, 6-3, to cement the biggest win of their fledgling careers.

Earlier in the week, Hong Kong shocked the world with back-to-back victories over No. 3 seed Australia and second-seeded Korea to progress to the showdown with Japan.

About the ITF World Junior Tennis competition

Inaugurated by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) in 1991, this 14 & Under annual event offers young players the opportunity to experience international competition and the unique atmosphere of playing in a team environment for their country.

Sixteen teams are drawn into four groups, with the top two from each group advancing to the knockout stage, and the remaining eight teams competing in a positional playoff to determine final placings. Each match consists of two singles and a doubles.

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

Notable Hong Kong performances

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. This enabled Hong Kong to advance to the WJT Finals for the very first time. In the ensuing Finals in Yamanakako, Hong Kong beat host Japan 2-0 to settle for 13th spot overall. That week, Jason Sankey defeated USA number one David Martin, 7-5, 6-4, to level proceedings at 1-1 before the Americans regrouped to win the deciding doubles in three sets to snatch a 2-1 victory.

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 week in Sri Lanka.

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

Results
World Junior Tennis Asia/Oceania Qualifying
Nonthaburi, Thailand
April 25-30, 2016

Semifinal
(7)Hong Kong d. (2)Korea 2-1
Cody Wong (HKG) d. Kim Su Min (KOR) 2-6 6-2 6-1
Park So Hyun (KOR) d. Jenny Wong (HKG) 6-3 6-2
Cody Wong/Jenny Wong (HKG) d. Park So Hyun/Ku Yeon Woo (KOR) 6-4 0-6 [10-6]

Final
(7)Hong Kong d. (1)Japan 2-1
Cody Wong (HKG) d. Ai Yamaguchi (JPN) 6-3 6-1
Himari Sato (JPN) d. Jenny Wong (HKG) 6-0 6-1
Cody Wong/Jenny Wong (HKG) d. Himari Sato/Ange Oby Kajuru (JPN) 6-3 6-3

FINAL POSITIONS
1. (7)Hong Kong
2. (1)Japan
3. (2)Korea
4. (4)Thailand

Top-4 advance to World Junior Tennis Finals at Prostejov, Czech Republic, August 1-6, 2016.


5. (5)China
6. (3)Australia
7. (6)New Zealand
8. (8)Chinese Taipei
9. Indonesia
10. Uzbekistan
11. India
12. Malaysia
13. Kazakhstan
14. Sri Lanka
15. Philippines
16. Kyrgyzstan


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