IN an unexpected turnaround, Hong Kong have entered Asia's premier team tournament for the first time in two years. The Hong Kong Tennis Association will send a team to this month's Ghafar Cup in Manila - but deny the move is in response to criticism from Hong Kong Sports Institute head coach Geoff Masters. Masters, who has resigned from the Institute because of differences with the association, was critical of Hong Kong's recent absence from the tournament. The territory were also expected to miss this year's event. But a spokesman for the association said: ''The deadline for entries is December 21 so we had plenty of time to enter. ''We will not be taking part in the individual competition but the team event will help us prepare for the Davis Cup next year.'' Hong Kong host Indonesia in a first-round Davis Cup Asia-Oceania Zone Group One tie in March. The Ghafar Cup comprises two singles and a doubles match in each rubber. Hong Kong will send a three-man team plus possibly two officials. Selection will be based on availability. Colin Grant, winner of two domestic titles and former Ghafar Cup singles finalist, and Thorsten Poelzl are in the running for singles spots having been Hong Kong's main draw representatives in this week's Richard Ellis Challenger at Victoria Park. Regular Davis Cup number one Mike Walker and Melvin Tong are also possible candidates. The Davis Cup squad, meanwhile, will be named after the association's annual general meeting next Friday. There is much speculation as to the make-up of the squad with the association hinting last month that there could be several changes. Veteran player Mark Bailey captained the squad in this year's event when the territory were beaten by Japan. That squad included Walker, Grant, Murray Bennetto and Pang Lui. Meanwhile, temperamental Mexican Oliver Fernandez yesterday overcame the after-effects of groin strain, a stiff neck and a mid-match slump to beat Kenya's Paul Wekesa 7-6, 2-6, 6-4 for his semi-final place in the Richard Ellis Challenger. Fernandez, who turned 21 earlier in the week, lost his cool when the umpire overruled the linesman at game point for Wekesa early in the second set and he dropped his next two service games to go down 1-5. After clinching the second set, Wekesa scored an early break in the decider but Fernandez regained his composure and bounced back with breaks in the sixth and 10th games for victory. ''I've got a bad temper and get upset very easily, but I'm trying to fix that,'' said Fernandez after booking his place in the semi-final. ''I must admit I was rather frustrated with that call but I never really thought I would lose the match. I don't think of the score when I'm on the court, I just play my game. ''But it was difficult today because I woke up with a stiff neck and the groin injury still bothers me a bit.'' The Mexican's semi-final opponent is yet to be decided because the match between Canadian-Chinese Albert Chang and big-serving Swedish qualifier Peter Nyborg was rained off shortly after it started. Nyborg won the opening game when it began to drizzle and Ecuadorian tournament referee Fabricio Valdevieso decided to postpone the match when they were still unable to restart by 10 pm. The other semi-final will be between Richard Matuszewski, the only seeded player to reach the last eight, and Sweden's David Engel. Sixth-ranked Matuszewski advanced by beating fellow-American Kenny Thorne 6-3, 6-4 in a rain-interrupted match while Engel recovered from a one-set deficit to stop flamboyant Italian Daniele Musa 6-7, 7-5, 6-2. ''I tried to force the ball too much in the first set, but after losing it I slowed down and played better,'' said Engel. ''Musa felt frustrated after losing the tight second set.' and I took advantage.''