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Historic bronze for Hong Kong at Universiade


Historic bronze for Hong Kong at Universiade

At the Taipei 2017 Summer Universiade, Kevin Wong and Brian Yeung combined for a bronze in men’s doubles to capture Hong Kong’s first medal in tennis at the World University Games. China also medalled in men’s doubles only once when Li Si and Yang Jing-Zhu won a bronze at Beijing 2001.

Seeded eighth, the HK duo saw off Brazil’s Lucas Rocha/Antonin Scaff and France’s Cocouvi Robin/Julien Eon without little fanfare in the opening rounds, winning both encounters by identical scores of 6-4, 6-2.

Since there is no playoff for outright third place, advancing to the semifinals will guarantee a podium finish at the bare minimum.

Therefore, a win in the quarterfinal against Korean 4th seed Chung Yunseong/Lee Jea Moon, represented a medal-clinching opportunity.

Chung won four doubles titles on the pro circuit in 2016 and reached a career-high doubles ranking of No. 412 earlier this year, while Lee owns two career doubles titles and peaked at No. 457 back in July.

In addition, Chung was the No. 3 junior in the world just fifteen months ago and a proven doubles player having been a B18 runner-up at the Orange Bowl and the team’s linchpin when Korea reached the Junior Davis Cup Final in 2013.

Although Wong and Yeung did pick up some satisfactory results in Futures events, neither has yet to crack the top 800 to date.

 (Image: Takumi Photography)

On paper, the Koreans have the edge.

Yet, there is no limit to what fine individual performances can bring, especially in a one-off, match-play situation.

That is precisely what transpired, which resulted in a 6-2, 6-2, victory for Team HK.

The chance to compete for gold was then up for grabs, as they took to the courts against Russian 7th seed, Richard Muzaev/Aslan Karatsev, in the semis.

However, the livewire act could not reproduce the high-octane offense from the previous day which, when coupled with the 0 for 8 break point conversion rate, proved telling in the end.

The Russians progressed with a 6-4, 7-5 decision and went on to beat Britain’s Jack Findel-Hawkins/Luke Johnson, 6-1, 3-6, [10-7], to take home the gold.

“It was definitely a little disappointing.  Had quite a few chances to break, and if it had gone to a third set, it might have been a different story,” lamented Yeung.

“They were a very solid team though.  Credit to them.  They made a lot of tough shots on critical points, but overall the whole tournament experience was great.  It was a pretty good week for us,” he added.

Unless records elsewhere suggest otherwise, the quarterfinal showing in mixed doubles by Brian Hung and Polly Lam in Izmir 2005 accounted for Hong Kong’s best result prior to Taipei 2017.

That same year, Brian Hung and Jack Hui took the opening set against No. 1 seed and eventual champion, Artem and Dmitri Sitak, before the Russians came back to win their men’s doubles third round encounter, 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-3.

The Universiade is an international multi-sport event, organized for university athletes, by the International University Sports Federation (FISU).  The first official Summer Universiade was held in 1959 in Turin, Italy.

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