HONGKONG number one Mike Walker yesterday welcomed the return of the territory's premier domestic tournament as a life-line for local tennis. The Fila-sponsored Hongkong Hardcourt Championships returns to the local calendar after two years with more than 900 players entering the month-long event at Victoria Park. Walker said the size of the tournament, which starts tomorrow and ends on March 7, proved Hongkong have enthusiastic players who crave competition. ''This shows that there is a lot of interest in Hongkong tennis,'' said Walker, seeded first ahead of Pang Lui, who beat him in last year's Chinese Recreation Club final. ''It shows that there are people out there who want to play. It's just that there aren't the tournaments to take part in.'' The men's competition sees a 128-draw for the A singles, with Walker, Pang, third seed Colin Grant and the other top 16 seeds receiving byes into the last 32-stage. All players will be wary of newly-arrived Swede Mikael Sodergran, 27, a coaching professional at the Excelsior Hotel. Sodergran, a contemporary of Stefan Edberg and Mats Wilander, has been in Hongkong for two months, but will have to start at the first round if he is to have a crack at the territory's top players. Former Hongkong number one Mark Bailey, a coach at the Hongkong Sports Institute, has not entered the competition. Bailey is non-playing captain for the territory's Davis Cup squad to play Japan in the Asia-Oceania Zone Group Two first-round clash from March 26-28 at Victoria Park.