A NEW ratings system for Hong Kong tennis players was launched yesterday. The Hong Kong Tennis Association (HKTA), together with sponsors First Pacific Davies and Guardian Sports, has introduced a programme where players of similar ability will be able to play against each other on both a competitive and social level. The ratings will give all players in Hong Kong a computerised ranking with which they will be able to enter tournaments according to their playing standards. Already, 5,000 players have enrolled in the ratings programme and the HKTA hopes to have more than 2,000 players by the end of the year. The HKTA has classified 20 different ratings from the top band of world-class players ranked to number 20, which is for absolute beginners. There will also be 10 weeks of tournaments starting this month where players can only enter a category according to their rating. Outside these tournaments, players can also organise ad hoc matches and send the results to the HKTA, which will use the information to calculate rises or falls in a player's rating. Godfrey Blott, of First Pacific Davies, said: 'Rating tennis is not a new idea but it is new to Hong Kong. 'In the United Kingdom for example, there are 55,000 active players with a rating and 900 tournaments a year which they can enter. 'In the United States there is a National Tennis Ratings Programme which forms the basis for all their leagues and club play.' As part of the launch yesterday, Hong Kong's top women's player Willy Chan Lee was given an honorary membership to the ratings programme. Chan will this year scale down her commitments to junior tennis and concentrate more on the senior tour.