Top seed Whittington overcomes slow start to win Hong Kong F1 Futures


At the Hong Kong F1 Futures, the first of three consecutive ITF Pro Circuit men's events this month, top-seeded world No. 286 Andrew Whittington of Australia defeated sixth seed He Yecong of China in straight sets, 7-5, 6-3, to win the singles title, while the doubles title went to Ning Yuqing of China and Yu Cheng-Yu of Chinese Taipei following a walkover from No. 1 seeds Yi Chu-Huan and Huang Liang-Chi.

In the first set of the men's singles final, He Yecong swiftly broke serve twice to jump out to a 4-0 lead before both players held their next serves to take the score to 5-1. From that point on, however, some sloppy serving from the sixth seed and improved play from Whittington saw the Australian turn the momentum completely upside-down when he captured the next six games on the trot to strong-arm the opener, 7-5.

In the ensuing set, games went with serve until 4-3 when the number one seed took advantage of some wayward serving from He to register the lone break he needed before holding serve to conclude a 7-5, 6-3, victory.

Besides serving below 42% with his first serves, He's second set woes can also be attributed to his inability to conjure any break point opportunities, while Whittington, on the other hand, managed to put in a first serve percentage of 75%.

The match lasted just a tad above the two-hour mark in rather humid conditions following repeated delays of the final due to persistent rain over the weekend.

Jackie Tang was the lone Hong Kong player who survived the singles qualifying to make it safely to the maindraw for the first time in his career. In fact, the 17-year-old went on to register his first win in the singles maindraw proper when he upset No. 8 seed Hung Jui-Chen (ATP 634) of Chinese Taipei in straight sets, 6-1, 6-4, before he was ousted by Daniel Nolan, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, after having won the first set against the world No. 884.

Kevin Wong (ATP 1575), one of five local players to receive a wildcard for the maindraw, was the only one who made it past the opening round when he beat the 1307th-ranked qualifier from Taiwan, Lin Wei-De, 6-3, 6-2.

However, the Michigan Wolverine's progress was halted by the top-seeded eventual champion Andrew Whittington in round two, 6-2, 6-3.

In the men's doubles, Karan Rastogi and Jack Wong upset fourth-seeded Andrew Whittington and Daniel Nolan in the first round, 6-4, 6-4, but they were stopped short of a semifinal berth after losing, 7-5, 6-2, to He Yecong and Wu Yibing in the quarters.

The tried and trusted combination of Kevin Wong and Brian Yeung managed to see off third seeds Hung Jui-Chen and Lin Wei-De of Chinese Taipei in the first round, 6-2, 6-4, but went no further as the duo narrowly missed the semis with a hard-fought, 6-4, 3-6, [10-6], loss to Shintaro Imai and Ken Onada of Japan.

All the Hong Kong players who are in training ahead of next month's Davis Cup Group III 2016 in Tehran are utilizing these few week's Futures events as part of their preparation for this year's campaign.

Cambodia, Hong Kong, Iran, Lebanon, Pacific Oceania, Qatar, Singapore, Syria, and Turkmenistan will vie for the two promotional spots up for grabs to Group II in 2017.

The territory last competed in Asia/Oceania Zone Group II back in 2012.

Victoria Park will continue as the site for the F2 and F3 Futures these next couple of weeks. Those who are interested in seeing some pro circuit tennis up close and personal can head straight for the courts, as admission is complimentary.

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