Open washout renews calls for indoor venue
A stubborn, persistent drizzle caused a near-total washout of play at yesterday's Salem Hong Kong Open, increasing calls for a facility in the territory with indoor options.
Two matches started yesterday at Victoria Park, but by 8.30 pm last night - and play having been suspended since mid-afternoon - organisers called a halt to play with no end to the wet weather in sight.
Tournament director Michael Luevano said play will start this morning, weather permitting, at 11 am.
Organisers will try and complete yesterday's schedule plus the remaining first-round matches involving Hong Kong favourite Michael Chang and world number two Pete Sampras.
The news from the Royal Observatory, however, is not so good, with patchy rain expected for the next three days.
'We are not going to make contingency plans for what will happen in a few days time,' Luevano said.
'At the moment, we want to start play at 11 am. Michael Chang will play not before 5 pm and Pete Sampras not before 7 pm.
'The good news for spectators who paid for tomorrow's [Wednesday's] play is that there will be a great day of tennis.' Australian Mark Woodforde was ahead against American Kent Kinnear 6-4, 6-3 on Centre Court before rain halted play, while on Court One, Woodforde's doubles partner Todd Woodbridge won the first set against Peter Nyborg 6-2.
Bad weather has been a thorn in the organisers' side for several years.
The Hong Kong Tennis Association has, for several years, lobbied the Urban Council to build an indoor stadium at Victoria Park.
Recently, the Urban Council conducted studies into the possibility of revamping Victoria Park with the view of designing a facility with a roof.
But as yet, nothing has been confirmed.
Luevano said: 'I think we need a 10,000-seat indoor venue. If you ask any promoter, of any sport, we need some sort of indoor facility with possibly a retractable roof.' Woodforde, semi-finalist at the Australian Open earlier this year, was keen to continue his match against Kinnear, but with a thin film of moisture covering the court, it was decided to halt the match.
Yesterday's paying fans were denied the opportunity to watch the Chang brothers, Michael and Carl, playing doubles as well as the clash between Hong Kong number one John Hui against Australian Patrick Rafter, who is a former finalist in Hong Kong.
Play will start today on three courts.