Hong Kong Fed Cup regular, Ling Zhang, is featured this month. 19-year old Zhang, who has been selected to represent her nation in Fed Cup each year since 2007, was competing in two $10,000 ITF Pro Circuit tournaments in Thailand. Both tournaments were held in the centre of Thailand in Nonthaburi and on her favoured hard court surface.
The first of these tournaments marked her first trip into Thailand for an ITF Pro Circuit tournament and named as the No. 1 seed, Zhang raced through the opening two rounds with the loss of just one game. In the quarterfinal she faced Beatrice Gumulya from Indonesia, and a 62 63 win took Zhang into a semi final match against seeded opposition. The sixth seed, Indonesia’s Lavinia Tananta, put up a fight in the first game before Zhang took it 75 but in the second game, Zhang dominated and secured a 75 60 win to move into her second singles final of 2009. Having been successful in all previous ITF Pro Circuit singles finals she has contested throughout her career and having met with little resistance en-route to this final, Zhang went into the match full of confidence. Sachie Ishizu from Japan, the seventh seed, was the player who now stood in the way of the 19-year old claiming a fourth career ITF Pro Circuit singles title. This final proved to be Zhang’s toughest of the tournament and she eventually won in two close sets 63 75.
Zhang also took part in the doubles event and here she found further success as, with partner Jessy Rompies from Indonesia, she took the title. As No. 2 seeds, they narrowly won 62 16 [10-8] over Tomoko Dokei (JPN) & Mi Yoo (KOR) who had defeated the top seeds in the opening round.
In the second of her tournaments in Nonthaburi this month, Zhang was named as the tournament’s second seed. As in the previous week, Zhang raced through the opening two matches, defeating two qualifiers 63 60 and 60 61. This set her up with a quarterfinal tie against her doubles partner from the previous week, Jessy Rompies. In an expected close match, it was Zhang who emerged triumphant, winning in straight sets, 64 64. New Zealand qualifier, Katherine Westbury, became the first player this month to take a set off Zhang when she won the second set of their semi final match but it was not enough to prevent Zhang going through to a second successive singles final. In the semi final of the previous week Zhang defeated Lavinia Tananta, and she was going to have to do the same again as eighth seeded Tananta had also made it into the final. Having defeated the No.1 seed in her semi final, Tananta was now looking for revenge for last week’s loss to Zhang in both the singles and doubles events. As the final began, Zhang never gave her opponent time to settle and soon found herself one set up, winning 62. The second set followed a similar pattern to the first and for the second time in two tournaments, Zhang was crowned the champion.
This week, Zhang had a change of partner for the doubles event, in the shape of fellow Hong Kong player, Zi-Jun Yang. The pair had to qualify for the main draw, which they managed with a straight sets win over European opposition. After a comfortable opening match, they then defeated the No. 1 seeds 63 76(4), one of whom was Zhang’s partner the previous week. A three set semi final win followed against an all-Thailand pairing to set up a final against Indonesian No. 2 seeds, Beatrice Gumulya and Lavinia Tananta, two players who, by now, knew Zhang rather well. Going into this final match, Zhang had already scored singles victories over both players and as a pair in the doubles event the previous week and was still to play Tananta in this week’s singles final. Last weeks doubles win for Zhang over the Indonesian pair was in two tie-breakers and this match was almost as close as Zhang and Yang recorded a 64 63 win and claimed the title.
A successful month here in Thailand saw Zhang drop just one set in singles play and winning back-to-back titles in both the singles and doubles events at both tournaments played. The two singles titles also saw her maintaining her 100% success rate in ITF Pro Circuit singles finals. Her career singles record now stands at five titles from five finals whilst in doubles she now has five titles from eight finals. She is also closing in on her career high WTA rankings of 313 in singles and 219 in doubles.