Justin puts his skills to the test
Up-and-coming tennis star Justin To Chak-ting joined a six-week European tour as a member of the ATF/ITF under-14 team earlier this summer.
The top six players in the under-14 ITF Asian Championships - Group I held earlier this year received invitations for the trip. Justin, 14, was Hong Kong's sole representative.
Justin said the tour was one of his goals since the beginning of the year. 'I was very proud to be a member of the ITF Asian team,' he says.
'I learned a lot about friendship and had an opportunity to not only be with my teammates from Asia, but also to meet other players from South America and Europe.'
The tour is an integral part of the development programme aimed at giving talented young players from around the world an opportunity to test their skills against Europe's best.
Asia's elite players took part in five tournaments in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany.
Unfortunately, Justin suffered an elbow injury during a doubles match at the BNP Paribas Cup - the tour opener in Paris. So he had to sit out singles events in three of the next four competitions.
Despite playing with a painful elbow, he did reach two doubles quarter-finals.
Justin was feeling much better at the final tournament - the Lapperre Young Champions Cup in Belgium - but lost in the first round. The draw pitted him against number three seed and eventual winner, Alberto Cammarata of Italy, who easily advanced.
In the doubles, Justin and Thailand's Warit Sornbutnark edged out Belgium's Maxime Alders and Russia's Alex Kokorev, 0-6, 6-3, 6-1, before falling to British sixth seeds, Liam Broady and Mike Watkins, in the quarter-finals.
'I realised the value of pre-hitting, stretching and cooling-down exercises. Before the trip, I didn't bother to do those things,' Justin says.
'I also learned that most of the time, it's a mind game. If you don't have confidence in your shots, the match can slip away very quickly.'