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ATP Challenger tennis event 'to inspire youngsters in Hong Kong'

27 January, 2015


For the first time since 1999, Hong Kong will host an ATP Challenger tournament - starting today at Victoria Park - which top official Herbert Chow Siu-lung hopes will inspire local children to reach for the stars.


"This tournament should be inspiring for our kids and I hope they can be encouraged to pursue their dreams of becoming a professional," said Chow, president of the Hong Kong Tennis Association.


The return of a high-level men's professional tournament to Hong Kong - some of the seeded players in the 32-man main draw are ranked in the top 100 - has already offered Hong Kong's Davis Cup contingent some invaluable experience in the qualifying rounds, which began on Sunday.


We timed this tournament in the second week of the Australian Open so we might be able to attract some good players

Chris Lai

Four local players took part in the 32-strong qualifying draw to decide four qualifiers for the main event.


Only Jack Wong Hong-kit made it past the first round, but his adventure was ended by China's Bai Yan in the second round.


Hong Kong's wild-card entry in the main draw, Andrew Li Hei-yin, was handed a tough assignment first-up being drawn against Japanese Tatsuma Ito, the second seed who is ranked 89th in the world and one of many players arriving from the Australian Open.


"We timed this tournament in the second week of the Australian Open so we might be able to attract some good players who lost in the first week and who are returning to Europe or the US," said HKTA chief executive Chris Lai.


The top seed is Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania (the world number 85), while other entrants in the US$50,000 tournament are Kyle Edmunds from Britain, a former top-10 junior, and Indian Somdev Devarrman, the Asian Games singles gold medallist in 2010.


"The focus of the HKTA for the next few years is to keep tennis in the Hong Kong Sports Institute as a tier A [elite] sport," Lai said. "This ATP Challenger event is the highest level men's professional tournament in Hong Kong, much higher than the ITF Futures we held last summer and it will be good for the players."