ATP Challenger Tour event perfect build-up for Asian Games
Hong Kong men's squad will have the chance to hone their game before heading for Incheon
The Asian Games-bound men's team will get the perfect tune-up at home with the Hong Kong Tennis Association arranging an ATP Challenger Tour hot on the heels of the WTA Hong Kong Tennis Open in September.
The association will dip into its own resources to fund the tournament - a second-tier competition in men's tennis - which will offer prize money of US$75,000. It will draw players from the top 100 to Victoria Park from September 15-21.
"We want to have a festival of international tennis over two weeks starting with the WTA Hong Kong Tennis Open and then leading into the ATP Challenger Tour event," said Herbert Chow Siu-lung, HKTA president.
"Our tournament will be the week before a new Shenzhen ATP Challenger event with prize money of US$250,000, so we are hopeful a number of players in the world's top 100 will come to Hong Kong before going across the border."
The event, which is slated to be a 32-man main draw plus a 32-man qualifying draw, will offer the five men in the 10-strong Asian Games squad the chance to hone their game before leaving for Incheon, South Korea.
David Sofaer is the highest-ranked local player at 912. The others are Brian Yeung Pak-long, Kevin Wong Chun-hun, Andrew Li Hei-yin and Kevin Kung Hoi-ting. Hong Kong will also send five women players to Incheon.
"This will be a good build-up for our players," Chow said.
"Even in the qualifying draw they will come up against some very good players ranked well above them and if they are able to be competitive it will bode well for the Asian Games where the competition will be very tough.
"We have got Victoria Park for a week for the WTA tournament and we asked the government if we could extend it for one more week as everything will be in place to host an international tournament, and we have received the green light."
"We want to show the government we are capable of organising and running both a women's and men's event."
The Hong Kong Tennis Open will be the first major professional tournament in more than a decade. It was made possible after the government helped the HKTA buy a licence for US$2 million. The HKTA has ambitions of one day hosting an ATP Tour event.