HK avoid Davis Cup relegation
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Local tennis stars fight back to edge out Lebanon 3-2 in crucial tie
Hong Kong beat Lebanon 3-2 to stave off relegation in the Davis Cup competition held at the Chinese Recreation Club from April 11 to 13.
The opening day ended in deadlock, as the two national teams were level at 1-1. There were two singles matches held last Friday, with Hong Kong's Yu Hiu-tung taking on Lebanon's Jicham Zaatini in the opener.
Yu, an experienced Davis Cup singles player, dominated the match and beat his veteran rival 7-6, 7-6, 6-7, 6-0.
The second singles match was lengthy and tense. Lebanon's Karim Alayly took the first two sets before Michael Lai fought back to even the score. However, Lai's luck didn't last and Alayly clinched the decisive fifth set to win 6-2, 6-2, 3-6, 3-6, 9-7.
The doubles match was contested on Saturday. The Lebanese pairing of Zaatini and Alayly fought back from two sets down to beat Henry So Hoh-kong and Adrian Montesinos 6-7, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-4, giving the visitors a precious 2-1 lead.
The Lebanese pair put the host team into a must-win situation on Sunday. Hong Kong had to win in order to stave off relegation to the Asia/Oceania Zone Group III for the 2009 season. Yu and Lai had to win both reverse singles in order to avoid the drop.
Yu's performance was impressive, considering the pressure he was under. He managed to play calmly and defeated Alayly in straight sets 6-2, 6-3, 6-3 to level the tie at 2-2.
Lai did not disappoint the local supporters either, when he completed the 3-2 overall victory by defeating the inexperienced Ibrahim Abou Chahine 6-1, 6-1, 6-2.
Chahine was called into the Lebanese lineup to replace the ailing Zaatini.
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