HK juniors' hunger aces Argentina
A 'hunger for victory' drove Hong Kong's triumph over defending champions Argentina in the last pool game of the Junior Fed Cup World Finals in Barcelona, said coach Benny Lin Bing-Chao.
Hong Kong, who made the finals for the first time ever this year and were unfamiliar with clay-court conditions, lost the first two rounds to France and the United States.
Faced with Argentina, who are last year's Fed Cup champions and this year's South American regional champions, Hong Kong seemed destined to finish last in their pool.
But Venise Chan Wing-yau, 16, pulled through with a 6-2, 7-6 win against Barbara Rush on the back of powerful serves and measured play, and Zhang Ling ensured victory by posting a 6-1, 6-1 win over Tatiana Bua.
For good measure, Zhang, 16, and Yang Zi-jun, 15, also won the doubles match against Bua and Rush 2-6, 6-3, 6-0 to shut out the Argentinians 3-0.
Lin said Chan and Zhang were playing better with each match and were finally showing they could excel on clay.
He had predicted before the start of the tournament that court conditions would be Hong Kong's greatest hurdle, as neither Chan nor Zhang had significant clay court experiences previously. The two grew up playing on hard courts.
'[Chan] played superbly, unleashing her penetrating groundstrokes and mixing counter punching with controlled aggressiveness,' Lin said.
'But, the difference today was she played more smartly by knowing when to keep the ball in play and when to take chances.'
'Her opponent was a very good player who could play both an offensive and defensive game equally well and a true clay-courter. Venise's fighting spirit and determination deserves a lot of credit,' he added.
Lin also said that Zhang showed no mercy to her opponent.
'She played and thought like a clay-court player,' he said.
'Just like Venise, Zhang Ling had lost two matches and was more determined than ever to win this match. She gave her full effort and played superbly for the entire match.'
Hong Kong's victory saw themfinish third in their pool and facing the elimination rounds. Their next game, played late yesterday, was against the Netherlands.
With Australia and China finishing second and third in their pools respectively, the Asia/Oceania region earned one extra spot in next year's World Finals.