The last pre-pandemic ITF junior event held in Hong Kong was the J4 Causeway Bay in January 2020. Thus, after an absence of some 16 months, competitive opportunities in the form of three Grade 5 events in May, June, and July were a welcomed change even though the fight against COVID-19 remains ongoing with strict adherence to face masks/social distancing protocols. The tournaments provided a much-needed arena for returning to match-play and a chance to earn some ITF World Tennis Tour Junior ranking points along the way.
Firstly, the NISSIN HONG KONG ITF JUNIOR TOURNAMENT (J5), which took place from May 17-22 at Victoria Park, saw Dasson Chan overcome the loss of the final three games of the opening set to come from behind to beat No. 6 seed Ethan Leung, 2-6, 7-6(5), 6-4, to take home his career-first ITF boys’ singles title. Earlier in the semis, Chan had also conceded the first set to qualifier Aaron Yu before he came back to win, 6-7(2), 6-1, 6-2. In the girls’ singles, Butter Cheung lost the opening set in 3 of her 5 singles matches she played, including against No. 2 seed Kelly Leung in the quarterfinals and No. 6 seed Hannah Shen in the semis that resulted in a protracted baseline tussle that lasted almost three hours before Cheung won 5-7, 6-1, 7-5. Up against top-seeded world No. 300 Sheena Masuda in the final, Cheung pleasantly surprised again with a 6-4, 6-4, victory to capture her first ITF singles title. In the boys’ doubles, the No. 1-seeded duo of Caymus Choi/Johnny Li saw off the challenge of Ethan Leung/Malhar Rajpal, 6-3, 6-4, to bag their first ITF title together. The girls’ doubles title went to Kaye Au-Yeung/Kelly Leung, who combined to beat No. 2 seed Erica Hagi/Chloris Li in straight sets, 6-1, 6-3, to secure their first trophy as a tandem. A word of thanks to Ms Blanche Wong, General Manager of the Public Relations Department of Nissin Foods, who was on hand to present the prizes to the respective finalists.
Then, the HONG KONG ITF JUNIOR TOURNAMENT 2021 (J5) was held at Victoria Park during the week of June 22, where the current Nissin Hong Kong National Junior Tennis Championships B18 winner, Ethan Leung, defeated the 2020 Nissin Hong Kong National Junior Tennis Championships B18 winner, Oscar Wai, 6-3, 6-4, to lift his maiden ITF singles title. In the boys’ doubles final, Dasson Chan/Ng Kar Long battled second-seeded Fong Ching Kit/Caymus Choi before establishing a solid, 6-2, 7-5, outing to lift their maiden doubles title. Meanwhile, Ophelia Tang captured her career-first ITF girls’ singles title at age 15 years and 2 months when she made a mockery of the world rankings by beating No. 2 seed Kelly Leung, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, who sits more than 780 places above her. “Kelly played well,” said Tang. “But I was able to regroup during the rain delay late in the second set. I started playing better in the third, stayed solid, and was able to move her around more.” Former Hong Kong No. 1 Zhang Ling captured the Grade 4 Hong Kong Open Junior Championships in 2004 aged 14 years and 11 months. Elsewhere, Kelly Leung/Chloris Li managed to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat when they strong-armed the last five points in a row in the third set super-tiebreak to beat No. 2 seed Butter Cheung/Erica Hagi, 2-6, 6-2, [10-7] to capture the girls’ doubles title. While this was Chloris Li’s first doubles title on the ITF World Tennis Tour, it was Kelly Leung’s seventh in her career thus far.
The third event in as many months was the J5 HONG KONG from July 5-10, also at Victoria Park. In the girls’ singles, No. 2 seed Chloris Li fought Hannah Shen for over three hours before she finally came away with a drenching 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 semifinal victory. Meanwhile, 13-year-old wildcard Rosalyn Chan, who was competing in just her second career ITF event, registered her best result to date when she progressed to the last four before No. 1 seed Kelly Leung halted her run with a 6-4, 6-4 decision. In the final, Kelly Leung and Chloris Li battled for three hours before the former came away with a hard-earned, 5-7, 6-1, 7-5 victory. This was Leung’s second career ITF singles title following her maiden one on clay in Nepal in 2018.
In the girls’ doubles final, with the score tied at an even-steven 5-5 in the third set super-tiebreak, No. 1 seed Kelly Leung/Kaye Au-Yeung managed to runaway with the next five points in a row to complete a 6-3, 6-7(2), [10-5] victory over 2nd-seeded Chloris Li/Erica Hagi to lift the title. In the boys’ doubles final, top-seeded Caymus Choi/Ethan Leung defeated 3rd seed Tim Gauntlett/Bryan Hui, 1-6, 6-2, [10-6] to capture the boys’ doubles title, their first together as a team. In the boys’ final, Aaron Yu (USA), seeded 7th, beat No. 3 seed Dasson Chan, 6-3, 6-2, to lift his first ITF title. The two had met earlier in the semifinals of the Nissin event back in May that was won by Chan in three sets. “To be honest, I was just not good enough today,” he said. “I did try to problem solve out there but tactically, it was not working well. I was trying to find a way to get him out of his comfort zone but he played well today. He was extremely consistent from the baseline and the lefty serve was very effective, too. But I know some of the things I need to work on when I get back to training this summer.”