Hong Kong win back Davis Cup group II status in Dubai tournament
New-look side returns to Asia/Oceania group II after almost completing clean sweep in Dubai
A new-look Hong Kong have won back promotion into group II in the Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Zone next year after finishing runners-up to Vietnam at the eight-team group III competition in Dubai.
Demoted from group II last year, Hong Kong fielded a new squad for the round-robin competition to decide two teams to be promoted for 2014. Led by Davis Cup debutants Phillip King and Ognian Kolev, the move worked as the team lost only to Vietnam in the week-long tournament.
"It was a new side and both our singles players were a class above most of the opposition," Hong Kong team manager David Ho Wai-tak said. "Hopefully, we can now take the next step and remain in group II next year. A lot will depend on how our singles perform."
King, a former US junior champion, and Kolev did the bulk of the work as Hong Kong finished unbeaten in the pool competition with wins over Malaysia (3-0), Oman (2-1) and Iran (2-1). They then beat Cambodia 2-1 to book a place in the final against Vietnam who were unbeaten in the other pool.
King, 32, retired hurt after Kolev gave Hong Kong a 1-0 lead, and Vietnam took the doubles with juniors Andrew Li Hei-yin and Tommy Lam Siu-chuen losing in straight sets
"The team really dug deep," non-playing captain Christopher Lai said. "Both Philip and Ognian were absolute rocks and delivered win after win despite difficult conditions. Their performances really shone through.
"Both guys are in their 30s, but they were outlasting players in their late teens and early twenties in 43-degree [Celsius] heat. Andrew and Tommy are only 16 and 17 respectively, so this has been a great learning experience for them and they will be able to build upon this for future ties.
"If it had not been for Philip's injury, there was a very good chance we would have remained undefeated and qualified top of the group. All four players were representing Hong Kong for the first time and I am very proud of their performances.
"We are delighted with the team's performance and our promotion back into Asia/Oceania group II, especially considering the extreme heat and conditions experienced through the week."
Hong Kong will now meet Thailand away in the opening round of group II action during the Lunar New Year in January.
"Thailand are a strong team and the tie will be played away so we know it will be a challenge. But we have a solid team, several months to train and prepare and we are looking forward to building upon our results in Dubai," Lai said.