Cody Wong was met with genuine resistance, but she hammered down decisive breaks at the business end of both sets to tame No. 3 seed Li Zongyu, 6-3, 6-4, to become the first local player to ascend to the girls』 throne of the Grade 2 Hong Kong Open Junior Championships.
Last year, she lost to No. 1 seed Thasaporn Naklo of Thailand in the final, 7-6(8), 6-4, to finish runner-up, as did Willy Chan back in 1995 when the tournament was held at the Hong Kong Sports Institute in Shatin.
「Winning my first ITF singles title in Hong Kong is great but, to be honest, there’s pressure too playing at home. I didn’t play my best tennis this week but it’s good that I still managed to win,」 Cody remarked. 「I just want to say many thanks to my family, my coach, and all my friends who came to support me every single match.」
As soon as the left-handed Li held to begin proceedings in the final, Cody won the next three games to carve herself a useful 3-0 lead. However, the local ace squandered a break point in the following game and then lost serve even though she managed to fight back from 0-40 down to force deuce.
At 3-3, the top seed got back on track, which was facilitated by two double faults from Li, as Cody retrieved the lost service game to go up 4-3. After consolidating with a love game, the Hong Kong No. 1 broke through her opponent’s defense again to wrap up the set 6-3.
Li began the second with renewed purpose and broke Cody at once to take the lead. Yet, the local ace was swift in her response, this time grabbing four games in succession to jump out to a 4-1 advantage. Still, she did not have it all her way and needed to save break points to consolidate for the third game.
Then, in the seventh game, a pair of costly double faults saw Cody concede her serve to allow Li back to a now threatening 4-3. However, the Chinese girl once again failed to withstand the top seed’s sharp riposte and double faulted at 15-40 to reciprocate the gift of serve.
Serving for the match with a 5-3 lead in hand, Cody began with a double fault and lost serve to love to open the door invitingly again for Li. Alas, and for the umpteenth time, Cody elevated her game when it mattered most and broke straight back to secure a 6-3, 6-4, victory to claim her first ITF girls』 singles title on home soil.
Earlier in the quarterfinals, Cody dropped her lone set this week against No. 5 seed Dong Na and needed to find the right adjustment to overcome the imminent threat. 「She played well in the first set. I was a little tight in the beginning, so I had to refocus in the second and try to be assertive but consistent at the same time. I needed to be more aggressive on the leg and get into better position for my shots.」
Cody is off to Korea next week for the Grade B1 Seogwipo Asia/Oceania Closed Junior Championships where she has substantial ranking points to defend after her semifinal showing last year.
The Belgian never faced a break point in the opening set and broke his Japanese opponent in the sixth game and served it out eventually for 6-3. In the second, Hoogmartens rode with the momentum and broke Yamanaka first up and quickly consolidated for a quick-fire 2-0 lead. However, the Belgian ran into serious trouble when he fell behind 0-40 in the fourth and eighth games respectively.
However, he managed to strong-arm five points in a row on both occasions to ward off the No. 2 seed’s challenge and broke in the ninth game to complete a 6-3, 6-3, win to lift the title. Hoogmartens triumphed on the junior circuit three times already this year, winning the G4 Cadolzburg in Germany, G4 Nottingham, and G3 Sobota in Poland.
About the Hong Kong Open Junior Championships
The tournament first started in 1993 as the Grade 2 International Championships of Hong Kong and later changed to Hong Kong Open Junior Championships in 1997. It was a Grade 2 event from 1993-2003. It became a Grade 4 event from 2004-2011, then Grade 3 from 2012-2013, and finally back to Grade 2 since 2014.
In 2018, Roger Ng became the first local to win the boys』 singles title. In girls』 singles, Zhang Ling won it when the tournament was a G4 in 2004, as did Jessica Yang the following year. In girls』 doubles, Willy Chan & Jackie Fu reached the final in 1995, while Tong Ka Po (w/ Diana Laksono) was runner-up in 1997. Local juniors found success in boys』 doubles with John Hui (w/ Bhee Witoonpanich) in 1996, Wayne Wong (w/ Simon Dickson) in 1998, and Jack Hui & Brian Hung in 2002. Kevin Wong & Brian Yeung won the boys』 doubles when it was a G3 in 2012.
Previous singles winners include Paradorn Srichaphan (1996), Lu Yen-Hsun (1999), Robin Soderling (2000), Lucie Safarova (2002), Latisha Chan (2003), among others. Notable finalists include Xavier Malisse (1996), Andy Roddick (1998), Sania Mirza (2001), and Angelique Kerber (2002).
Hong Kong Open Junior Championships (G2)
Victoria Park, Causeway Bay
October 28-November 2, 2019
(6)Alexander Hoogmartens (BEL) d. (2)Taiyo Yamanaka (JPN) 6-3 6-3
(1)Cody Wong (HKG) d. (3)Li Zongyu (CHN) 6-3 6-4
(2)Lu Pengyu/Zheng Baoluo (CHN) d. (3)Wen Guanglin/Zhang Yu (CHN) 7-6(5) 1-6 [10-6]
(4)Li Yu-Yun/Li Zongyu (TPE/CHN) d. Pimrada Jattavapornvanit/Tian Fangran (THA/CHN) 3-6 7-5 [15-13]