AMERICAN Carl Henkel faces a fitness race before the Hongkong leg of the International Beach Volleyball Series which starts at the Victoria Park Centre Court tomorrow. Henkel had an operation to remove his appendix last week in Penang, Malaysia - where the second leg of the series was played - but feels he will be fit to play for defending champions the United States in the $154,000 tournament, sponsored by San Miguel. Henkel's return is vital to a US team looking for revenge against Brazil, firm favourites in the eight-team tournament. American team captain Dane Selznick said: ''We played without Carl last week and we lost to Brazil in two sets. He makes a difference because he's a good blocker and one of our key players.'' The US will be out to end Brazil's domination of the series. The South Americans won the first leg in Boracay, the Philippines, and were victorious again in Malaysia. The US have been given a dream run to the semi-finals in Hongkong as they have avoided two of the other countries who reached the semi-finals in Penang - the Philippines and Indonesia. The Americans will play Australia, Japan and Hongkong. Brazil, the Philippines and Indonesia are joined by Malaysia in the other group.