Chen sets up meeting with idol
By NORIDEEN KITCHELL
TAIWAN'S Chen Wei-ju took the first steps to emulating his hero Michael Chang when he won the Reebok Asia-Pacific Championships boys' singles crown at Victoria Park yesterday.
Chen, born in the same city as American-Chinese Chang's parents, defeated Lee Jung-min of South Korea 6-7, 6-3, 6-3 in the final, and like his idol, was mobbed by autograph hunters after his victory.
''This is definitely the biggest moment in my six-year career,'' said the 14-year-old left-hander, who earned a trip to the Australian Open next month which includes a coaching session with Chang.
''I never thought I could win this tournament because all the top junior players in the region were competing. And I've never won an under-16 title before, let alone at international level.'' Chen suffered the early jitters and dropped the first set in a tiebreak, 8-6.
A solitary service break in the eighth game was good enough to give Chen the second set as he served out to love for a 6-3 win.
He broke Lee's service in the third game of the decider but showed hints of nervousness on serve when leading 4-3.
Mistakes crept into his game but he survived three break points and held serve on two consecutive errors by Lee.
The 16-year-old Korean seemed to have lost heart after his failure to square the score and dropped service in the next game to set up a 6-3 win for Chen.
South Korea's Jeon Mi-ra continued to impress with a comprehensive 6-3, 6-1 girls' singles triumph over Haruka Inoue of Japan.
Jeon, who on Wednesday dashed the hopes of a local winner when she humbled Hongkong's Willy Chan in straight sets, took less than an hour to topple Inoue.
Chan made amends for her semi-final loss by beating Taiwan's Huang Yu-chun 6-3, 6-4 in the play-off for third place.
The third-place play-off for boys was cancelled because South Korea's Chung Eui-hyun was ill. Teammate Chung Hee-sung won on a walkover.