Hong Kong youngster Vivian Yip defeats Australia’s Julie Keegan for Classic singles glory

The 25-year-old comes back from a set down to defeat experienced Australian opponent at prestigious Hong Kong tournament to complete a set of gold medals

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 12 November, 2017, 8:33pm
UPDATED : Monday, 13 November, 2017, 1:52am

When Vivian Yip Wai-tak completed her unlikely victory against experienced Australian bowler Julie Keegan in Sunday’s final of the women’s singles at the Hong Kong International Bowls Classic, she hugged almost everybody in sight.

Those hugs around the rink at Club de Recreio was her way of saying “thank you” to the supporters who stuck by the 25-year-old even when the chips were down.

Representing Hong Kong Football Club this year, Yip came back from a set down to upset former Australian international Keegan in a come-from-behind 4-9, 9-6, 4-1 victory to complete a set of Hong Kong Classic gold medals that will augur well for the future of Hong Kong bowls.

Watch: All the action of the 2017 Hong Kong International Bowls Classic

The youngster won the Classic pairs competition with Amy Choi Ging-yi in 2015 and now has the singles title under her belt, becoming the second Hong Kong bowler to win the coveted prize since Dorothy Yu Kin-shan achieved the feat in 2015. The women’s singles competition was introduced to the Classic in 2008.

Yip was elated with her title victory and proceeded to high-five and hug spectators as she made her exit from the rink.

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“I just wanted to share my joy of winning with everyone,” said Yip of her celebrations.

“My opponent is very experienced and it was a hard-fought game,” said Yip, who is competing in her fourth Classic.

The match was originally scheduled at the Kowloon Bowling Green Club but because of Sunday’s rainy weather, it was moved indoors to Club de Recreio. But whether she played outdoors or indoors, it didn’t really matter as Yip delivered another shot in the arm for Hong Kong bowls with local – and young – bowlers now winning the prestigious local tournament on a regular basis.

A product of the Hong Kong youth development scheme, Yip was just eight years old when former Australian netballer Keegan first took up bowls in 2000. Despite coming up against a national icon, who won gold in fours and silver in triples at the 2008 world championships, the Hong Kong bowler didn’t feel overawed by the occasion.

Phoenix-sponsored Keegan, 53, who no longer represents Australia these days, was also a silver medallist in triples at the 2010 Commonwealth Games but Yip had faith in herself – and so did the spectators who lined the rink.

“For me, the critical moment came in the tiebreaker when Julie made a mistake and gifted me a shot. I thought it was bad luck for her but I was able to lead 2-1 and I never looked back after that,” said Yip, will now focus on the pairs competition on Monday with partner, Celena Kwok.

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The men’s singles final was won by Australia’s Jesse Noronha, who defeated Scotsman John Fleming 7-5, 5-5.

“I’m really happy to have won and hopefully this will help me get into Australia’s main squad. I think it was my consistency that won it for me. My first bowl was always good and my opponent was always chasing the game all the way through,” said Noronha, who is competing in the Classic for the first time as is Fleming.

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Fleming, 21, and Noronha, 26, became the youngest-ever finalists (combined age) in men’s Classic singles competition in the 32-year history of the Classic. Noronha is the youngest Classic singles winner since New Zealand’s Mark Watt won the title at the age 19 in 2007.

The Classic continues with the pairs competition this week with the men’s and women’s finals scheduled on Sunday at Kowloon Bowling Green Club.