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Nineteen-year-old Coleman Wong became the first player from Hong Kong to capture a men’s singles title on the pro circuit when he fired his 14th ace on match point to beat Italian Luca Giacomini 6-3 5-7 6-1 to lift the Tunisia F29 Futures in Monastir.  The teenager began competing full-time in men’s events after his semifinal run in the boys’ singles at the 2022 US Open had netted him a career-best No. 11 in the junior world rankings. 

He is the first player from Hong Kong to reach a men’s singles final on the pro circuit since Jack Wong, who was runner-up at the US$10,000 Indonesia F1 Futures in 2016 and the US$25,000 Hong Kong F1 Futures in 2018.  Former Hong Kong Davis Cupper, Sven Koehler, who peaked at No. 14 in the junior world rankings back in 1992, managed to reach the Week 3 final of the Japan 1 Satellite in August 1997.  While predecessors the likes of John Hui, Yu Hiu Tung, Brian Yeung, Kevin Wong, and Jack Wong have all brought home Futures titles in doubles, a trophy in singles remained elusive over the years.

After reaching three US$25,000 semifinals last season, Wong advanced to his first-ever men’s singles final last week at the Tunisia F28 Futures but he eventually had to settle for a runner-up finish following a 6-3 6-3 defeat to the in-form No. 3 seed Hady Habib of Lebanon in the final.  On Sunday, however, he was determined not to let slip another opportunity even though he yielded an energy-zapping second set to his opponent.

Wong started the final against Giacomini with a bang and broke serve in the opening game before consolidating for a quick-fire 2-0 lead.   His opponent returned the favour in the sixth game to draw even at 3-3 only to see the HK rep break back immediately to reestablish a 4-3 advantage.  Wong then belted a pair of aces for a love hold to go up 5-3.  The teenager then broke the Italian again, this time to love, to grab the first set 6-3 with all the momentum in the world.

Rather unexpectedly, Wong conceded his serve to start the second set, with Giacomini then saving a break point before consolidating the break to lead 2-0.  To the HK rep’s credit, his swift response enabled him to break back at once to force a 2-2 impasse.  Then, serving with a 40-15 lead in hand, the Italian strung together the next four points on the trot to break back to go up 3-2.  Wong knuckled down to break Giacomini to 15 and then delivered a love hold to regain the lead, 4-3.  He was then forced to save two break points in a row before he held the monumental ninth game to go up 5-4.  Serving to stay in the match, the Italian did not buckle and drove the score to another 5-5 stalemate.  On his third break point chance in the penultimate game of the set, the Italian broke Wong after multiple deuces to lead 6-5 and then held to 15 to take it 7-5.

The start of the third now became critical and immediate proceedings could make or break either player’s fighting spirit.  It was Wong who took the stranglehold by breaking his opponent early to grab a momentous 2-0 lead.   By now, games flowed fast and furious.  The HK rep sent down his 12th ace of the match to hold authoritatively for 3-0.  He then belted his 13th ace to hold strong and jumped out to a 4-1 lead.  Wong proceeded to break Giacomini again and catapulted himself to a huge 5-1 advantage. 

Just one game away, now.

Finally, after two-and-a-half hours of seesawing play, Wong sent down his fourteenth ace on match point down the tee to beat Giacomini 6-3 5-7 6-1 to become the first player from Hong Kong to capture a Futures title in men’s singles.

Wong started off a promising 2022 by winning his maiden pro circuit men’s doubles title at the $15,000 event in Manacor during the first week of January.  The following week, he teamed up with American Bruno Kuzuhara to capture the Australian Open boys’ doubles title, his second Junior Grand Slam doubles following his initial triumph at the US Open in 2021.

In March, the Davis Cup team travelled to Benin for the World Group II Play-Offs First Round tie and Wong led the side to a 3-1 victory as the No. 1 singles player.  It was then announced that Wong, together with alpine skier Adrian Yung and sailor Russell Aylsworth, were the first three sports persons admitted to the University of Hong Kong’s inaugural Top Athletes Direct Admission Scheme in which HKU will provide each athlete with a HK$400,000 scholarship to support them in their efforts to achieve both sports and academic aspirations and pursue their dreams with vigour and passion.

In July, while filming All On The Line, an exciting behind-the-scenes ITF-production about the life on tour, Wong became the first player from Hong Kong to reach the Wimbledon boys’ singles quarterfinals.  Two months later, he became the first player from Hong Kong to reach the US Open boys’ singles semifinals.  On October 10, he reached a career-high junior world ranking of No. 11, and since he was the highest-ranked player from Asia, that cemented his position as the de facto Asian No. 1.

Wong then captured his second career pro circuit doubles title by taking the US$25,000 event at Tay Ninh, Vietnam.  He rounded off the year by taking part in the Bank of Communications Hong Kong International Tennis Challenge and gave a good account of himself against British No. 1 Cam Norrie and former three-time Grand Slam winner, Stan Wawrinka, albeit being an exhibition event.  Nevertheless, the Swiss needed to save three match points in the third set super-tiebreak in order to preserve a 4-6 6-3 [13-11] victory over the teenager.

At the annual sporting gala organized by the SF&OC this April – Cathay 2022 Hong Kong Sports Stars Awards – Wong added the Hong Kong Sports Stars Award for Men to the Most Promising Sports Stars Awards he had already won in 2018.  Next up for the HK rep is the World University Games in Chengdu this August and the Hangzhou Asian Games in October.

Tunisia F29 Futures
Skanes Family Magic Hotels & Resorts
Monastir, Tunisia
Jun 19-25, 2023

Men’s Singles
First Round
(3)Coleman Wong (HKG) d. (q)Ewen Lumsden (GBR) 6-2 6-1

Second Round
(3)Coleman Wong (HKG) d. (q)Mikhail Gorokhov (RUS) 6-3 6-2

(3)Coleman Wong (HKG) d. (7)Nicolas Tepmahc (FRA) 7-6(2) 6-7(4) 6-2

(3)Coleman Wong (HKG) d. Gilbert Klier Junior (BRA) 6-3 7-5

(3)Coleman Wong (HKG) d. Luca Giacomini (ITA) 6-3 5-7 6-1