Mission Hills aiming to add ATP or WTA event to its schedule
Noel Prentice at Mission Hills
Mission Hills brought the World Cup of golf back to the mainland after a 12-year hiatus. Now it wants to bring a professional tennis tournament back to southern China.
Executive director Tenniel Chu hopes to bring an ATP or WTA event to the expanding tennis centre at Mission Hills, which hosts the Michael Chang Tennis Academy.
'It took us 12 years to complete what you see today,' Chu said, referring to the World Cup of golf coming back to Mission Hills. It was staged at Mission Hills in 1995 and the club has since become the number one golfing facility in the world, boasting 12 courses, along with a tennis facility with 51 courts.
'We have already staged two Davis Cups at Mission Hills [1999 and 2001]. We have the ideal set-up and facilities,' Chu said.
'We lack a major tennis event in southern China. We hope to have one some time in the future,' he said.
Hong Kong once hosted an ATP event - the Salem Open - but lost it to Shanghai in 2003. Beijing now stages the China Open - which doubles as an ATP and WTA event - and Shanghai hosts the season-ending Masters series.
Finding dates in the busy tennis schedules are obviously a problem, but Chu said they would start working with the major tours and the China Tennis Association to achieve their aim. Mission Hills already has the biggest tennis centre in Asia and is adding clay courts and indoor courts to meet the demands of Chang's vision.
'Our objective is to develop tennis the way we have developed golf,' Chu said.
'Our number one priority is to produce players who can compete at ATP and WTA level.'
Chang is also a major driver in bringing a tournament to Mission Hills.
'It is possible a major tournament can be played here somewhere down the road, in a few years,' he said.
'I've talked with the WTA [about holding a tournament in this area]. They want to sit down and talk about some future events in China and about some events here [at Mission Hills]. With the Chinese women doing well, there really is a huge market.
'I'm sure if the tours' chief officers came here to look at the facilities when it's done, they would be very excited about holding an event here.'