‘We don’t want another issue like Pakistan’: Hong Kong raise Beirut safety concerns for Davis Cup trip
Manager David Ho says team will talk to Hong Kong Tennis Association this week as they look to avoid another situation like 2017 Islamabad tie
Hong Kong’s Davis Cup team manager has raised safety concerns about their trip to face Lebanon in April.
Following a 4-0 clean sweep against Iran at Victoria Park at the weekend, Hong Kong are to head to Beirut for their Asia/Oceania Group II semi-final.
The two sides faced off at a neutral venue in Tehran for their Group III promotion tie in 2016.
“We will wait until [this week] and talk to the Hong Kong Tennis Association,” Ho said, regarding arrangements for the tie. “We don’t want another issue like Pakistan.”
The International Tennis Federation (ITF) expressed disappointment when Hong Kong withdrew from a Group II second-round tie in Islamabad in April last year citing security concerns.
Pakistan had been forced to play home Davis Cup ties abroad since 2010 because of the security situation in the country, but international tennis returned to Islamabad in February 2017 with a 3-2 win against Iran.
An independent tribunal had ruled the tie at the Pakistan Sports Complex should go ahead, with the venue approved by the Davis Cup Committee, and as a result Hong Kong defaulted the tie.
Last August, the ITF fined Hong Kong US$10,000 and relegated them to Asia/Oceania Group III for breach of Davis Cup regulations, but Hong Kong successfully appealed to an independent tribunal against their demotion and remained in Group II.
“That time we were worrying about safety so we refused to go, “ Ho said of the Pakistan tie. “It was a big concern among the guys then, so now I wonder this time if it is too early to say.
“We have to really give the guys a week or two of rest and then we will get a meeting sorted out and see who wants to play in Beirut.”
Hong Kong would have had another home tie in the semi-finals had Taiwan been able to overturn a 2-0 deficit from Saturday’s singles against Lebanon.
“Obviously, geographically we would have liked that,” said Ho.
Hong Kong also face another blow with Anthony Jackie Tang’s status for the Lebanon tie up in the air.
The 19-year-old, who won Hong Kong’s opening point against Iran with a battling 7-6 (7-1), 6-4 victory against Shahin Khaledan on Saturday, has flown back to New York to resume his studies at Columbia University, where he plays on the NCAA collegiate circuit.
“I think definitely Jackie won’t be going [to Lebanon] because he’s committed by that time in college, so we will be missing him,” said Ho.
“But it all depends on the on-court morale and confidence of the other guys. If the guys are maturing and working hard, tennis-wise and technique-wise they have all got the ability.”
Safety concerns aside, Ho also believes Lebanon are a talented side who will pose Hong Kong problems, singling out German-born world No 504 Benjamin Hassan.
“This guy is really good,” Ho said of Hassan, who saw off Taiwan’s Yu Cheng-yu in three sets to give Lebanon their first point of the tie.
“Lebanon will be a big increase in strength for us. We met them in Tehran last time, that No 1 [Hassan] is really good. They will be very hard to beat.”