Fifteen-year-old Coleman Wong defeated No. 2 seed Brian Yeung, 6-2, 4-6, 6-1, to become the tournament’s youngest-ever men’s singles champion, while 17-year-old Cody Wong saw off former three-time winner Venise Chan, 6-2, 6-1, to claim her third straight ladies’ crown.
Coleman Wong last competed at the CRC Open in 2016 and won a couple of matches in the men’s qualies, but never in the maindraw until this year. Earlier in the semis, he accounted for No. 1 seed and former two-time winner, Jack Wong, in a wildly fluctuating tussle, 7-6(3), 1-6, 6-0.
In Sunday’s final, the teenager pitched a slider out wide for an ace to open play and held to love. He was quickly into stride and found the mark almost immediately with his punishing forehands and broke the No. 2 seed before consolidating with another ace to jump out to a 3-0 lead.
A few net cords that went Coleman’s way also added to the second seed’s early woes, as he was endeavouring to overcome a slow start. There were no breaks until 5-2 when Brian Yeung coughed up successive double faults from 40-15 up to lose serve and the set.
Despite a disappointing opening stanza, Brian regrouped and strung together some solid backhands to force a break for a slender 1-0 advantage. With more attacking net play, the No. 2 seed then overcame a pair of double faults and saved two break points to consolidate for 2-0. From that point forward, Brian never faced another break point in the set, as he threw down a number of thumping aces and a barrage of first serve winners to hold for 6-4.
On serve at 2-1 in the third, Brian suddenly struggled to find a first delivery. He began with a double fault and could only watch, as Wong took two of his second serves for winners to break for 3-1. After the teenager consolidated for 4-1, Brian belted his 11th and 12th ace of the match to arrive at game point, but a well-timed backhand down-the-line running pass followed by a service return winner saw the teenager break again for 5-1.
After sending down his 9th ace of the match to go up 30-0, Coleman committed a pair of hurried errors to allow the No. 2 seed back in with a chance at 30-all. The young fellow’s relentless attacking play told the tale in the end, as he ripped a crosscourt backhand to force another miscue from his opponent before he smacked a service winner out wide to complete a 6-2, 4-6, 6-1, victory in an hour and thirty-two minutes.
“I last played here three years ago and so to come into the maindraw and win it first-up, I’m ecstatic.” said Coleman. “He’s a tough opponent and he serves really well. I just tried to stay calm, play my game, and take advantage of my opportunities. Luckily, I was able to do that and get the win. Next year, my focus is on the four Junior Grand Slams, but I’m hoping I can return to compete, too.”
Yu Hiu Tung (2001), Andrew Li (2014), and Jack Wong (2015) were seventeen when they captured their first CRC Open men’s singles title.
In the ladies’ singles final that took place earlier on Saturday, 17-year-old Cody Wong, the two-time defending champion, defeated second-seed Venise Chan in straight sets, 6-2, 6-1, to cement her three-peat.
After overhitting a number of shots to concede serve tamely to trail 2-1, Cody began to settle down to impose her will on proceedings. She conjured five service breaks in a row and won the next nine games to catapult to a 6-2, 4-0, lead before Venise managed to close the floodgates by breaking back for a much-needed lifeline, 4-1.
The relief, however, was brief, as the top seed swiftly responded with consecutive love games to wrap up a 6-2, 6-1, victory in under an hour.
Venise, who captured the first of her three titles in 2005 as a sixteen-year-old, showed flashes of her shot-making abilities, but it was always going to be a tough ask against a full-time player who is coming off the best season of her rising career.
With still another year of eligibility left in the juniors, Cody reached a career-best No. 23 in the ITF Junior Rankings in 2019 and was a Direct Acceptance to all four Grand Slams. In girls’ doubles, she reached the French Open quarterfinals and US Open semifinals. In girls’ singles, she became the first player from Hong Kong to reach the last sixteen or beyond at Wimbledon since Patricia Hy last did it in 1983.
She captured the Grade 1 “Zhong Tian Cup” in Nanjing, Grade 3 Kuala Lumpur International, and became the first local player to win the girls’ singles title at the Grade 2 Hong Kong Open Junior Championships.
Accepted to the US$15,000 pro circuit event at Hua Hin as a Junior Exempt (wildcard for a 2018 year-end ITF top 100 player) this October, Cody beat four ranked opponents to capture her maiden women’s singles title to earn her first WTA ranking.
“I just tried to stay aggressive and dictate play as much as I can, even though I was missing some shots in the beginning,” said Cody. “CRC is one of my favourite local tournaments and it’s an honour for me to win this tournament for the third time. Hopefully, I can come back and defend my title again next year!”
Paulette Moreno is the only other player to win three or more ladies’ singles titles in a row from 1981-85 (tournament was suspended for a year in 1983 due to court repairs), while the one with the most overall wins is Tong Ka Po with six in 1996, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2004, and 2007.
The youngest player on record to win the ladies’ singles is also Paulette Moreno, who first triumphed in 1981 as a 12-year-old.
In the men’s doubles, top-seeded defending champs Brian Yeung and Lee Hsin-Han saved the lone break point they encountered all day in the opening game and then proceeded to break Ray Lam and Aziz Khan four times to win in straight sets, 6-3, 6-1. The HK-Taiwanese pairing has now won the last five local majors dating back to the SCAA Open 2018.
“Overall, a pretty good week. Started the match off a little sloppy today, but I think we played the critical points better than them, putting away volleys when we needed to,” said Yeung.
In the ladies’ doubles, No. 2 seed Jacqueline Lam and Avril Look edged Vivian Lin and Lin Wing Ka, 6-3, 1-6, 7-6(4), to lift the title. “It was a meaningful tournament for me because I got to play some exciting matches with my sister,” said Vivian. “It was a pity that we missed two championship points, but we both enjoyed every moment on court together.”
CRC Open 2019
Chinese Recreation Club
Coleman Wong d. (2)Brian Yeung 6-2 4-6 6-1
(1)Cody Wong d. (2)Venise Chan 6-2 6-1
(1)Brian Yeung/Lee Hsin-Han d. (2)Ray Lam/Aziz Khan 6-3 6-1
(2)Jacqueline Lam/Avril Look d. Vivian Lin/Lin Wing Ka 6-3 1-6 7-6(4)
Photos: CRC Open 2019