Second ATP event put on back burner
MARLBORO Championships organisers' hopes of rejoining the Association of Tennis Professionals' official Tour have been put on hold because of a full international calendar.
Organisers of October's special event last week had high-level talks with officials from the ATP. And tournament director Ken Catton said the current calendar does not allow the Marlboro to join the Salem Open on the official world circuit.
Catton, who had previously organised the Hong Kong Open for two decades, spoke with the ATP's chief executive officer Mark Miles and executive vice president Larry Scott during last week's tournament won by American Chinese Michael Chang.
''We were talking to them and we discussed all of the necessary issues,'' said Catton. ''In fact, we have been talking to the ATP for the last two years to explore ways of becoming part of the Tour.
''It is all a matter of the calendar and, at the moment, it is full. One way is for somebody to sell a big tournament during that week. But I can't see somebody selling a successful tournament.
''But having said that, we have a very good tournament. It is often incorrectly referred to as an 'exhibition', when it is in fact a 'special event'. Exhibitions are one-off matches for an agreed amount of money, whereas ours is a proper tournament.'' This year's event is scheduled for the third week of October and will clash with ATP events in Beijing, Lyon and Vienna.
Last year's Marlboro attracted a star-studded cast including former world number one players Ivan Lendl, who was in Hong Kong last week, John McEnroe and Sweden's Stefan Edberg, as well as eventual winner, Dutchman Richard Krajicek.
It also featured the flamboyant Jensen brothers, Luke and Murphy, in the doubles competition.
With such a high-class field, organisers would not settle for a drop in quality should they join the circuit.
In January, 1988, Catton and the Hong Kong Tennis Patrons' Association left the governing Men's Tennis Council because they would not upgrade the Hong Kong Open to super-series status, which would have guaranteed at least two top 10 players.
Catton would be after a US$1 million championship series single-week event, such as Indian Wells or Stockholm, which would guarantee as many top 10 players as available, injury-permitting.
However, these tournaments belong to a select group and a more likely scenario would be a championship series double-week event, like the Japan Open or the Australian Indoor, when the top players would be split with another tournament during the same week.
The Salem Open is a World Series event where players can be lured via appearance money.
All eight seeds in the boys' singles advanced into the third round of the Hong Kong Junior Championships at Victoria Park yesterday.
Second-seeded Dominik Hrbaty of Slovakia beat South Korea's Chung Hee-sung 6-7 (0-7), 6-4, 6-4 to reach the last 16 along with top-seeded Canadian Chris Santoso, who booked his place with a 6-0, 6-0 whitewash of Hong Kong's Wayne Wong on Tuesday.
John Hui is the sole Hong Kong survivor in the boys' singles and faces India's Jaideep Shetty in the third round.
Thailand's eighth-seeded Phornsarin Tovistchai was the only seed to lose in the women's singles when she was beaten 6-0, 6-4 by Korea's Kang Seung-yeon in the second round.
Top-seeded Filipina Francesca La'O takes on Malaysia's Khoo Chin-bee in the quarter-finals while second-seeded Ludmila Varmuzova meets Australia's third-seed Angela Lawrence.