Top seeded Philippines took both singles rubbers to secure an unassailable lead against Hong Kong before Maggie Ng and Sher Chun Wing salvaged the doubles in a 2-1 loss yesterday in a Pool A round robin at the Fed Cup Asia/Oceania Group II 2016 in Hua Hin, Thailand.
The Hong Kong Fed Cup Team (from left): Yu Hiu Tung (Coach), Physiotherapist, Wu Ho Ching, Zhang Ling, Sher Chun Wing, Maggie Ng, and Yan Zi (Captain).
First up at number two singles, erratic play characterized by ill-advised points, hampered both Wu Ho Ching and her 17-year-old adversary, Khim Iglupas, during the initial exchanges. In what was her singles debut, the Filipino rookie managed to withstand a more concerted fightback from the HK representative to close out an edgy affair 6-4, 7-5.
Iglupas captured the ITF Grade 4 at Victoria Park three months ago and holds a current junior world ranking of No. 143.
With a one-nil lead in hand, WTA No. 493 Katharina Lehnert managed to break a somewhat weakened WTA No. 303 Zhang Ling six times in all to register a quick fire, 6-1, 6-4 victory that gave the Philippines an insurmountable 2-0 advantage.
The dreaded windy conditions, coupled with an unforeseen ailment that appeared overnight, certainly did the Hong Kong No. 1 no favours. Nevertheless, her German-born counterpart proved to be a formidable opponent who remains undefeated in singles with six straight wins following her debut in this competition twelve months.
Lehnert owns four career C10 singles and three doubles titles on the pro circuit.
Sher Chun Wing and Maggie Ng then teamed up for a consolation victory in the doubles in straight sets, 6-4, 7-5, to make the final score line somewhat more respectable.
Barring any catastrophes against winless Bahrain with just one round of matches left, Philippines (3-0) looks odds on to finish first in Pool A, and will thus advance to a playoff against the winners of Pool B to determine the lone promotion spot for Asia/Oceania Zone Group I in 2017.
After impressive back-to-back wins against 2nd seeded Indonesia and Malaysia, Singapore (3-0) is a shoo-in to finish atop Pool B regardless of the outcome of the rest of their round robins.
Unquestionably, the most surprising result from Hua Hin thus far is from the play of Stefanie Tan
Although she holds Singapore’s All-Time Fed Cup records in Most Years Played (6) and Most Ties Played (20), the twenty-three year-old does not hold a current ranking and last competed on the pro circuit in July 2014. Moreover, her career-high was No. 1016 in singles (21 Mar 2011) and No. 1015 in doubles (29 Dec 2014) attained in her freshman and senior years respectively at Texas Christian University.
Against Indonesia’s 698th ranked Beatrice Gumulya on Day Two, she overcame the loss of the opening set to beat a ranked opponent, 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, who is still very active on the pro circuit today.
This was Singapore’s first win over Indonesia in its brief Fed Cup history.
Earlier in the week, the Hong Kong Fed Cuppers started their campaign with a come-from-behind win against Pacific Oceania, as WTA No. 935 Abigail Tere-Apisah opened proceedings with a 2-6, 6-1, 7-5, victory over Maggie Ng at number two singles to secure the Islanders an unexpected 1-0 lead.
Zhang Ling then followed at No. 1 singles and quickly jumped out to a 4-1 advantage over the 856th ranked Steffi Carruthers before a string of unforced errors allowed her opponent to even the score at 5-5 games all.
Fortuitously, Lynn produced a crucial late break to cap the set, 7-5, before she proceeded to steal another early in the second to bag the set unscathed, 6-3.
In the deciding doubles, the more experienced duo of Sher Chun Wing and Zhang Ling was able to keep the unpredictable pairing of Carruthers and Tere-Apisah at bay to net a 6-3, 6-2 victory that cemented Hong Kong’s opening win.
Meanwhile, the four remaining teams in both pools will compete in positional playoffs with the exception of the team finishing bottom in Pool B.
Draws & Results