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2022-03-06

HK BEATS BENIN 3-1 IN WORLD GROUP II PLAY-OFFS 1st ROUND

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HK BEATS BENIN 3-1 IN WORLD GROUP II PLAY-OFFS 1st ROUND

Faced with a partisan crowd, Playing-Captain Jack Wong and teenager Coleman Wong both won their opening singles to put the team in a tie-clinching position ahead of Saturday’s crucial doubles.  The duo then did not disappoint, as they staved off five break points in the seventh game of the third set before breaking Alexis Klegou and Sylvestre Monnou right at the end to win, 6-2, 1-6, 6-4, to secure an unassailable 3-0 overall lead.

Jack Wong (23), Coleman Wong (17), Roger Ng (20), and Dasson Chan (16) form the youngest Hong Kong team on record to bring home a Davis Cup victory to date.  When Coleman Wong made his debut against Chinese Taipei in Group II in 2019, he was in fact the youngest Hong Kong representative to play Davis Cup at age 15 years and 100 days.

In the opening singles, Playing-Captain Jack Wong split the first two sets with opposing No. 1 Alexis Klegou.  However, after gaining a 4-1 lead in the third, Klegou could not continue due to severe cramping in his left arm and was thus forced to retire, effectively handing Hong Kong, China a 1-0 advantage.

In the ensuing singles, Coleman Wong was trailing 2-1 in the first set when he produced successive breaks to go on a four-game run to stake himself a commanding 5-2 lead.  At 40-30 the following game, Coleman could not capitalise on a set point, threw in an untimely double fault, and was eventually broken, as Delmas N’Tcha was able to peg the score momentarily back to 5-3.  Frustrated with the loss of serve, Coleman then fought tooth and nail to force deuce in the next game and had two further set points before N’Tcha held on dearly for 5-4.  Although it seemed a mere delay of the inevitable, Coleman then dug himself a 15-40 hole but he battled on to wrestle the next four points in a row to hold for the set, 6-4.

In the second set, Coleman again made the first move and went up 40-0 on N’Tcha’s serve in the third game.  Even though his opponent fought back to 40-30, Coleman eventually registered the initial service break to go up 2-1.  However, he was prevented from consolidating the break, as his opponent rebounded well to save a game point before he broke the HK rep back for a 2-2 stalemate. Trailing 3-2 on serve, it was déjà vu as Coleman was faced with a 15-40 situation, but again he managed to dig deep to win the next four points to level at 3-3.  After both players held authoritatively to bring proceedings to 4-4, Coleman found his return game and pounced on N’Tcha’s serve to break him to love. 

Serving for the match with a 5-4 lead in hand, there was no letting up this time round, as Coleman fired a scud up the middle for an ace to close out a hard-fought, 6-4, 6-4, victory.

Overall, Coleman’s First Serve % hovered at around 56%, however, he managed to limit his opponent’s 2nd Serve Points Won to 7 of 19 (37%) and ultimately made good on 4 of 9 break point opportunities.  「It was extremely difficult to hit outright winners on this surface.  It almost played like a clay court with really high bounces.  The balls were flying all over the place, so it was tough to control at times,」 the Captain remarked.

In the crucial doubles, both sides had their ups and downs in the early going and ended up sharing the first two sets.  The final set, however, was an uphill battle all the way.  In the opening game, Coleman and Jack let slip a 40-0 lead and double faulted to allow Alexis Klegou and Sylvestre Monnou back in the fold before the HK duo strived to hold for 1-0.  At 1-1, the boys needed five game points to hold, as the Benin pair’s return game was on the ascendance by this juncture and making the going really tough for the HK reps.  Then with the score tied at 3-3, Coleman and Jack found themselves down 0-40 in double quick time with Klegou and Monnou seemingly all set to snatch the monumental break.  Then, the Hong Kong tandem saved five consecutive break points to whether the storm, with the Captain finding 5 first serves in a row to hold for 4-3.  In the ninth game, they held convincingly to love to move ahead 5-4.  Against the tide, Coleman and Jack won five points on the trot to break serve after the Benin duo had jumped out to a sure fire 40-0 lead.  Game, set, and match Hong Kong, China, 6-2, 1-6, 6-4.

The tenacious win gave the team an unassailable 3-0 lead, with Monnou defeating Roger Ng, 6-4, 6-4, in the first reverse singles to round out the 3-1 scoreline.

Coleman Wong: 「This was a very difficult tie.  They had a super loud and engaging home crowd cheering them on and we’ve not really experienced that kind of atmosphere before.  On the day of the singles, conditions were extremely windy and their No. 2 was playing amazing at times, so I’m happy that we got the win on the road.  It was challenging, to say the least.」

Hong Kong, China will join eleven other teams – Ireland, Latvia, Indonesia, Estonia, Egypt, Monaco, El Salvador, Chinese Taipei, Dominican Republic, Greece, and Bulgaria – in the 2022 World Group II where ties will be played on a home-and-away basis from either September 16-17 or 17-18 later this year.

Nominations
Hong Kong, China – Jack Wong (Playing-Captain), Coleman Wong, Roger Ng, and Dasson Chan
Benin – Bruno Danhouan (Captain), Alexis Klegou, Sylvestre Monnou, Delmas N’Tcha, Patrick Agbo-Panzo, and Prince Gandonou

Results
World Group II Play-Offs First Round Stade de l’Amitié Général Mathieu Kerekou
Cotonou, Benin
March 4-5, 2022

Hong Kong, China defeated Benin 3-1
R1 Jack Wong (HKG) d. Alexis Klegou (Benin) 1-6 6-4 4-1 Retired
R2 Coleman Wong (HKG) d. Delmas N’Tcha (Benin) 6-4 6-4
R3 Coleman Wong/Jack Wong (HKG) d. Alexis Klegou/Sylvestre Monnou (Benin) 6-2 1-6 6-4
R4 Sylvestre Monnou (Benin) d. Roger Ng (HKG) 6-4 6-4
R5 Jack Wong (HKG) v Delmas N’Tcha (Benin) Not Played