Hong Kong have regained their group one status in the Sudirman Cup world team championships through the introduction of a new format.
The biennial event will take place in Kuala Lumpur in May and Hong Kong will again have the opportunity to test themselves against world powerhouses such as China, Denmark, South Korea and Malaysia.
"It is more competitive in the elite group and tougher to get results but the players like the challenge," said head coach Tim He Yiming. "We will now put more focus on team competition as the East Asian Games in September will also have both the men's and women's team events."
Four years ago at the Sudirman Cup in Guangzhou, Hong Kong were relegated to group two after losing to Japan. They played in the second-tier competition in 2011 in Qingdao where they finished third and were supposed to stay in group two this year.
"The international body has used the rankings of five individual events in March and those 12 nations with the highest score, including Hong Kong, will be competing in group one," said He. "We have quality singles players such as Wong Wing-ki, Hu Yun and Yip Pui-yin and our women's doubles pair of Tse Ying-suet and Poon Lok-yan is also strong. The only worry will be the men's doubles."
Ng Ka-long and Lee Chun-hei, who parted ways after clinching the world junior doubles title in 2012, will have to join forces again for the team competition, and Lee will also have to partner Tse in the mixed doubles.
Meanwhile, the coach paid tribute to a new generation of players as they look ahead to the 2020 Olympics. Ng Wing-yung, 17, partnered with 18-year-old Tang Chun-man, won the mixed doubles in the German Junior Open this month. The pair also came second in the Dutch Open.