Accorded a 5-8th seeding, the girls started proceedings in the round robins with a pair of convincing wins against Lebanon and Singapore before No. 2 seed India upended them to top Group D. Despite the loss, Hong Kong still qualified for the knockout stage as the runner-up from the group.
Unluckily, Hong Kong drew the top-seeded Aussies in the quarterfinals and even though Charlotte Lam at No. 2 singles did very well to take the opening set 7-5 against, Sara Nikolic, the current Australian National 14U singles champion, both Nikolic and Renee Alame at the No. 1 spot, were able to close out their matches with strong finishes to take an unassailable 2-0 lead to progress to the semifinals at the expense of TeamHK.
Then, against fellow 5-8th-seeded Uzbekistan, the team trailed 1-0 after dropping the opening singles, but Hebe Leung defeated opposing No. 1 Keira Kim with the loss of just one game and then partnered Jane Sze to win the deciding doubles with a 6-2, 7-5 victory against Emily Kim/Elnura Boltaboeva to give Hong Kong a 2-1 victory.
Lastly, in a rematch against second seed India in the 5-6th Place Playoff, the girls gave a much better account this time round, especially with Hebe Leung battling Indian National Junior 14U Champion, Maaya Rajeshwaran, to a third set super-tiebreak before the opposing No. 1 prevailed, 5-7, 6-2, [10-4] to give the Indians a 2-0 victory over Hong Kong. In terms of ITF Junior Rankings, Renee Alame (AUS) is ranked first at No. 409 amongst the under-14 age group, followed by Hikari Yamamoto (JPN) in second at No. 410, and Maaya Rajeshwaran (IND) third at No. 973.
About ITF World Junior Tennis
The international under-14 team event was launched by the ITF in 1991 with the Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (NTT) as title sponsor. Japan hosted the first 8 Finals before they were relocated to Prostejov, Czech Republic, and has remained there since 1999. Notable past participants include Amelie Mauresmo, Kim Clijsters, Justine Henin, Daniela Hantuchova, Agnieszka Radwanska, Sloane Stephens, and Coco Gauff, to name a few. The most successive nation in WJT girls is Russia with 8 titles to date. In 2005, Japan became the only nation from Asia to reach the final, but it came away second best against a Russian side led by the world’s best under-14 player, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
In 2016, Hong Kong won the WJT Asia/Oceania Qualifying to progress to the Finals for the first time since the competition’s inauguration back in 1991. Cody Wong, Jenny Wong, and Lin Wing Ka subsequently took the EFG Hong Kong under-14 girls’ team to a sixth place finish at the ITF World Junior Tennis Finals in Prostejov, Czech Republic. They returned with Asia’s finest result that year, placing ahead of traditional powerhouses, such as Japan and Korea.
WJT Girls Asia/Oceania Qualifying
March 20-25, 2023
Group D – Round Robins
(5-8) Hong Kong d. Lebanon 3-0
WS2 Charlotte Lam (HKG) d. Kaya Chkayban (LBN) 6-4 3-6 6-2
WS1 Hebe Leung (HKG) d. Carmen Azar (LBN) 6-0 6-0
WD Hebe Leung/Jane Sze (HKG) d. Carmen Azar/Reina El Jessr (LBN) 6-0 6-0
(5-8) Hong Kong d. Singapore 2-0
WS2 Charlotte Lam (HKG) d. Sophie Chua (SGP) 6-0 6-2
WS1 Hebe Leung (HKG) d. Victoria Alekseykina (SGP) 6-4 6-0
WD Hebe Leung/Jane Sze (HKG) v. Victoria Alekseykina/Sophie Chua (SGP) Not Played
(2)India d. (5-8)Hong Kong 2-0
WS2 Harithashree Venkatesh (IND) d. Charlotte Lam (HKG) 6-3 6-0
WS1 Maaya Rajeshwaran (IND) d. Hebe Leung (HKG) 7-5 6-3
WD Maaya Rajeshwaran/Diya Ramesh (IND) v. Hebe Leung/Jane Sze (HKG) Not Played
(1)Australia d. (5-8)Hong Kong 2-0
WS2 Sara Nikolic (AUS) d. Charlotte Lam (HKG) 5-7 6-4 6-1
WS1 Renee Alame (AUS) d. Hebe Leung (HKG) 6-0 6-0
WD Not Played
5-8th Place Playoffs
(5-8) Hong Kong d. (5-8)Uzbekistan 2-1
WS2 Emily Kim (UZB) d. Charlotte Lam (HKG) 7-6(1) 6-3
WS1 Hebe Leung (HKG) d. Keira Kim (UZB) 6-1 6-0
WD Hebe Leung/Jane Sze (HKG) d. Emily Kim/Elnura Boltaboeva (UZB) 6-2 7-5
5-6th Place Playoff
(2)India d. (5-8)Hong Kong 2-0
WS2 Harithashree Venkatesh (IND) d. Jane Sze (HKG) 6-3 6-3
WS1 Maaya Rajeshwaran (IND) d. Hebe Leung (HKG) 5-7 6-2 [10-4]
WD Maaya Rajeshwaran/Harithashree Venkatesh (IND) v. Hebe Leung/Jane Sze (HKG) Not Played
FINAL POSITIONS (Brackets denote seedings):
——————————– Top 3 qualify for Finals 4. Kazakhstan(5-8)
6. Hong Kong(5-8)
9. Chinese Taipei
10. New Zealand
14. Sri Lanka