Hong Kong Tennis Open ‘on track to become one of top WTA events’ after cash boost, say organisers
Third edition of tournament will be bigger and better than ever says Hong Kong Tennis Association after government increases funding to HK$9 million
The Hong Kong Tennis Association says this year’s Prudential Hong Kong Tennis Open will be bigger and better than ever after a HK$2 million cash boost from the government.
The tournament received HK$9 million from the Mega Events Fund on Monday, an increase on last year’s HK$7 million.
This year’s event will be the third edition of the Women’s Tennis Association tournament and the HKTA claim it’s already on track to become one of the tour’s premier competitions.
“We are extremely thankful for the government’s support and that of many other sponsors and stakeholders who continue to support it,” said tournament director Chris Lai.
“It has given the HKTA a huge motivational push.
“Last year was a huge success and it was the second-highest attended event out of 33 WTA international events in the world.
“It’s is on track to become one of the top WTA international events and the extra government support is very important is helping Hong Kong achieve that goal.”
Last year’s government funding helped attract top names such as seven-time grand slam champion Venus Williams, former world No.1 Jelena Jankovic and major winners Samantha Stosur and Francesca Schiavone; others – Eugenie Bouchard, Garbine Muguruza, Victoria Azarenka – had signed up before withdrawing with injuries.
The MEF funding boost should ensure another top field and the HKTA confirmed talks are already in progress with leading stars.
“No doubt the extra funding will allow HKTA to attract more big names for this year’s tournament,” Lai said. “We expect another year with a strong players’ field.
“We had really strong feedback from players after last year, they really enjoyed the event and were already looking forward to coming back,” added Lai, who said the timing of the tournament at the end of a long, gruelling WTA season had its pros as wells as cons.
“To be clear, all the players who signed up wanted to come to Hong Kong. Injury withdrawals do happen at all competition levels, including the grand slams, Premier events as you will have seen sometimes. Injury is part and parcel of the game.
“On the other hand we do have the attraction for players looking for qualifying points to qualify for [the lucrative WTA Tour Finals in] Singapore and [the WTA Elite Trophy in] Zhuhai, as was the case with Kerber, Venus and Jankovic last year.”
The HKTA wants to make the tournament one of the leading events in Asia, Lai added.
“The objective is to continue to build it as a mega event focusing on tourism, building HK’s international profile, enhancing spectator experience as well as community engagement and the extra funding will go towards every department of the tournament operation in achieving that goal,” he said.
“Every major world city has a premier tennis event and we believe Hong Kong deserves to have our own too.”
Fans were given free access on ‘People’s Monday’ last year. The HKTA says the 2015 edition had 1.1 million local TV viewers, ‘engaged’ with 92 schools and supported 10 local charities as they hope to build awareness in the city.
“Building a successful tournament is a year-round operation and we started preparation in earnest as early as the end of last year,” Lai added.
“We’re running on full throttle in all aspects of tournament operation and we launched a community initiative in April and we will be launching ticket sales in July.”