Tennis juniors to take on the world

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 09 October, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 09 October, 2003, 12:00am

Hong Kong's tennis juniors take on some of the world's top young talent in the Hong Kong Open Junior Championships starting on Saturday at the Sports Institute in Sha Tin.

The competition, held until October 19, is part of the on going annual ITF Junior Circuit which sees top international under-18 players compete for world-ranking points.

World-ranked local juniors Venise Chan (749 singles, 681 doubles) and Martin Sayer (428/421) can rocket up the ITF lists with good shows in the boys' and girls' singles and doubles respectively.

The SAR tournament is worth 250 points to the singles champions and 180 to the winners of the doubles.

A total of 48 boys and 32 girls will compete in the main singles events, with many also competing in the doubles.

Several top locals advance directly into the main draw, which starts on Monday.

Among the boys, Ronald Chow (the Hong Kong junior No2), Michael Lai, Jack Hui Cheuk-wai (winner of the 2002 Open doubles title with partner Brian Hung Lap-hei), Josh Finkelstein, Ng Kwok-yeung and Gilbert Wong will not need to qualify.

Of the girls, Venise, Cindy Lee Si-nga, and Sarah Fowler avoid the early stages.

Sixteen local boys are among the 29 who have entered the qualifying round. They will compete for just six remaining spots in the main draw. Twenty-three girls, including sixteen locals, will play for just four places in their main draw.

Two juniors ranked in the ITF top 20 withdrew from the competition last month. Suk Hyun-joon from South Korea, ranked 18th in boys singles, dropped out, as did Yugoslavia's Lukic Vojislava, ranked 9th in girls singles.

The highest ranking players appearing will be Liu Tai-wei (23/70) from Taiwan in the boys' contest, and mainlander Sun Sheng-nan (34/68) in the girls'.

Last year, Cheuk-wai and Lap-hei captured the doubles title against highly regarded Pablo Figueroa of Sweden and G.D. Jones of New Zealand.

Another local ace, Yu Hiu-tung, finished runner-up in the singles after losing to seventh seed Brendan Evans of the US in the final.

Czech Republic pair Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Safarova dominated the 2002 girl's events. Andrea defeated Lucie in the singles final and the duo teamed up to win worldwthe doubles.