Prudential Hong Kong Tennis Open

Top British tennis player serves ace in Hong Kong canteen for deprived elderly

Five Hong Kong Open participants prepare and serve food at Food Angel canteen in Sham Shui Po

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 October, 2016, 5:53pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 October, 2016, 8:50pm

British women’s No 1 Johanna Konta took a break from the tennis court to serve the elderly at a canteen in the deprived district of Sham Shui Po on Wednesday.

After overcoming fellow Briton Naomi Broady to progress to the second round of the Hong Kong Open, Konta visited a canteen run by Food Angel, which takes in surplus food and serves it to the elderly.

Four other Open contestants also took part – Zheng Saisai, Liu Chang, Lu Jiajing and Nao Hibino, who knocked out Samantha Stosur in a shock opening round result.

Instead of letting supermarkets dump their unsold food in landfills, Food Angel rescues four tons daily and turns it into over 6,000 free hot meals and food packs for the underprivileged.

Konta said she was proud to have contributed to the food-rescue programme “even in a very, very small way”. She added: “It was a wonderful cause to be distributing food that would otherwise be wasted to people who really need it.”

The five tennis players served fish fillet and tofu in crab sauce to over 200 elderly people after helping prepare the food in the kitchen. Konta said it was her first experience of being in a public kitchen and she looked forward to further volunteer opportunities.

Despite being defeated by Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska in the final of the China Open last week, Konta was recently ranked No 9 in the world, which made her the first British woman to break into the top 10 for 32 years.

Most of the players said they normally did not have the luxury to be in a kitchen due to their tight schedule throughout the tennis season. The exception was mainland Chinese player Liu Chang, who declared that she was an experienced cook.

Liu approved of the dishes served in the canteen. “These dishes are very good for the elderly,” she said, “They are bland in taste and are a mix of both meat and vegetables.”

The experience also warmed the hearts of the players. Mainland Chinese player Lu Jiajing said serving the elderly reminded her of her grandparents, while Nao Hibino said it reminded her of some community centres for senior citizens back home in Japan.