Asian Games: family atmosphere in Palembang camp gives Hong Kong’s tennis players a taste for medals
Eudice Chong Wong and Zhang Ling are both one match away from earning at least a bronze in the singles; rowers through to medal races
A family atmosphere at Hong Kong’s Palembang camp is helping the tennis players as Eudice Chong Wong and Zhang Ling stand one match away from winning a medal at the Asian Games.
Chong player brilliantly to beat Taiwan’s Chang Kai-chen 6-0, 6-2 to set up a quarter-final against India’s Raina Ankita Ravinderkrishan.
Zhang is also through to the last eight after saving a couple of match points to beat Uzbekistan’s Sabina Sharipova 7-5, 3-6, 7-5. Zhang then teamed up with Yeung Pak-long to reach the mixed doubles quarter-finals, stunning China’s Yang Zhaoxuan and Gong Maoxin 4-6, 6-4, 10-7 (last-set tiebreak).
“Everything is really great,” said Hong Kong coach Amine Boustani, a former Morocco Davis Cup player who coached for 30 years in US colleges, including division one Louisiana State University.
“We have managed to create a family atmosphere for both the men and women. We preach that every day and know that we can only control the controllable and do the best we can to prepare for every match.
“We have two players who are one win away from a medal. Eudice played very well, better than the previous match and her win was very significant.
“Ling was down a couple of match points and then she fought really hard to win and it was a hell of a performance to come back like that after letting go of the second set.”
Zhang now faces Taiwan’s Liang En-shuo in the quarter-final and victory for her and Chong would mean at least a bronze medal for both.
Chong, 22, is ranked 612 in the world and is punching above her weight to reach the last eight. Zhang, 28, is ranked 348.
With the other Hong Kong singles players knocked out of the tennis events, Chong and Zhang remained their best hopes.
“We came in with an army of eight and we still have a few soldiers out there. We are in a position to play for medals and that’s all we want, just the opportunity to do that,” said Boustani, who praised his coaching team of Karan Rastogi and Lee Hsin-han.
“Obviously, it’s very important and we made it clear of what our expectations were. We are not here just to participate but win medals with a ‘s’ at the end and that’s what we’ve prepared for.”
In rowing, Chan Chi-fung is is through to the A final of the men’s singles sculls after finishing second to India’s Dattu Baban Bhokanal in the repechage in Palembang’s JSC Lake. This means he is a medal contender in the final.
Also through to the A final are the men’s lightweight fours team, who finished third in the repechage behind the powerful Uzbeks and India. Significantly, they beat the joint Korea team into fourth place.
Winne Hung Wing-yan, however, just missed out on the A final in the women’s singles sculls, finishing third in her repechage.
Lee Kam-man finished third in her women’s lightweight singles sculls but all six competitors are in the A final and the race was merely a battle for lane numbers in the decider.
In the women’s quadruples, Hong Kong were eliminated after finishing fifth.
Said coach Chris Perry: “A good row for Chan Chi-fung in the men’s open single to qualify for the medal final. Close second to India who was the highest ranked Asian single sculler in Rio.
Chan is actually the Hong Kong No 2 lightweight sculler – so doing well to hold his own in open category.
“The lightweight men’s four also through to the medal final. They are also rowing as part of the eight in tomorrow’s repechage so just did enough today. The lightweight women’s quad were disappointed. A poor start. Coming back strongly at the end but ran out of course!.
“Very good row for our young lightweight sculler Winne Hung in the open women’s rep. Expected result. She is aiming to win B final and is a talent for future. “