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Hui top 3 at Asia-Pacific Elite 14U Trophy


Hui top 3 at Asia-Pacific Elite 14U Trophy

Despite a semifinal loss against top-seeded eventual champion Kim Wonmin of Korea, Hong Kong’s Alex Hui saved three match points in the third set super-tiebreak to beat reigning Australian Grasscourt Championships B14 winner, Lucas Han, in the playoff 4-6 6-1 [13-11] to finish third overall. The Australian Open Asia-Pacific Elite 14 & Under Trophy offers a unique opportunity for some of the Region’s leading players to experience a Grand Slam both as a player and as a spectator.

Hui and his fellow competitors were given access to see the feature men’s semifinal night match between Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev at the Rod Laver Arena.

Organised by Tennis Australia in collaboration with the Asian Tennis Federation and Oceania Tennis Federation, the aim is to encourage emerging talents to continue progressing through the tennis pathway in the hope that one day, they, too, can compete in the maindraw of bigger and better events like the Australian Open.

“It was a great experience to play at Australian Open Asia-Pacific 14 & Under Trophy Tournament against top players from the region. Overall, I am happy to finish in 3rd place, as I played against some tough opponents and was able to come through in a few very close battles! As coaching was allowed during the match, I was able to communicate well with Coach Ronit to understand how to strategise better during crucial moments of the match. I think I benefited from this. This week has given me a lot of motivation to work harder so I can improve and hopefully challenge the top players in the world in my age group.”

Sixteen elite juniors comprising eight boys and eight girls from Asia-Pacific, including players from Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Kazakhstan, Korea, Japan, New Zealand, Northern Mariana Islands, Papua New Guinea, Thailand, and Uzbekistan all came together to compete at Melbourne Park.

For both the boys’ and girls’ sections respectively, eight players are divided into two groups of four, with the top 2 from each group advancing to the semifinals. The others are to contest the 5th-8th Place Playoffs. Each player is, therefore, guaranteed a minimum of five matches.

Hui started the round robin with a win against Lam La Hunn from Northern Mariana Islands, the B14 winner of the 2023 Pacific Oceania Junior Championships. Next up, however, Japan’s Takahiro Kawaguchi, the 2022 Eddie Herr B12 semifinalist, upended the HK rep in the second match 6-4 6-2. That meant Hui needed to beat No. 2 seed Dharma Pantaratorn, the starting No. 1 singles for Thailand’s 2023 WJT team, in the final Group B match in order to advance to the semis. Although he dropped the opening set, Hui finished the stronger of the two to post a 1-6 6-1 [10-4] victory to seal a place in the final four.

In the semifinal, Hui faced a familiar foe, No. 1 seed Kim Wonmin. The Korean had beaten the HK rep in the semifinals in straight sets in both singles and doubles during Week 1 of the ITF Asia 14 & Under Development Championships last April in Odisha. Then, in September, Alex Hui and Walter Tam beat Kim Wonmin and Kim Dongjae 4-6 7-5 [10-8] to win the boys’ doubles at the ITF Asian Junior Championships in Phnom Penh. Although Hui played a much better game this time round, Kim still came out on top 6-4 6-3 to progress to the final.

In the epic 3-4th Place Playoff, Hui yielded the opening set against Aussie Lucas Han but dominated the second to force a deciding third set. In the ensuing super-tiebreak, the HK rep was initially down two match points trailing 9-7. Then, he was down match point for a third time trailing 10-9 before he was able to turn the tables to seal a remarkable comeback 13-11. Han was in good form, having just clinched the B14 title at the Australian Grasscourt Championships the week prior to Melbourne Park. In 2022, Han was the B12 winner of the Australian Hardcourt Championships and was seeded sixth for the Junior Orange Bowl.

The Asia-Pacific Elite 14 & Under Trophy is more than just a competition. It marks a significant milestone in the players’ journey and gives them a glimpse of what the future could hold as a professional tennis player. The success and continuation of such events is therefore a testament to the commitment and collaboration to nurturing the future of tennis in the Asia-Pacific region.

Australian Open Asia-Pacific Elite 14U Trophy
Melbourne Park
January 24-26, 2024

Group B

(4)Alex Hui (HKG) d. Lam La Hunn (NMI) 6-1 6-0
Takahiro Kawaguchi (JPN) d. (4)Alex Hui (HKG) 6-4 6-2
(4)Alex Hui (HKG) d. (2)Dharma Pantaratorn (THA) 1-6 6-1 [10-4]

(1)Kim Wonmin (KOR) d. (4)Alex Hui (HKG) 6-4 6-3
Takahiro Kawaguchi (JPN) d. Lucas Han (AUS) 7-6(4) 6-0

3-4th Place Playoff
(4)Alex Hui (HKG) d. Lucas Han (AUS) 4-6 6-1 [13-11]

(1)Kim Wonmin (KOR) d. Takahiro Kawaguchi (JPN) 2-6 6-3 6-4

Final Standings – Boys

  1. Kim Wonmin (Korea)
  2. Takahiro Kawaguchi (Japan)
  3. Alex Hui (Hong Kong)
  4. Lucas Han (Australia)
  5. Dharma Pantaratorn (Thailand)
  6. Zhang Heran (China)
  7. Lam La Hunn (Northern Mariana Islands)
  8. Zachariah Wu (New Zealand)