American tennis star Michael Chang has joined the growing chorus of concern surrounding the plight of the Hong Kong Tennis Association's (HKTA) cash-stricken junior development programme. Chang, patron of the Hong Kong Tennis Foundation, was said to be 'sad and surprised' after discovering the HKTA may have to curtail development plans due to lack of funds, according to officials. The 1989 French Open champion and former world number two has had a hands-on involvement in Hong Kong tennis' development programme during several visits to the SAR. Chang, who played in the territory earlier this month at the Salem Open, has overseen the launch of the Rejoice programme, a scheme that has introduced more than 10,000 Hong Kong youngsters to tennis since its launch in 1992. But the cash crisis that has engulfed the HKTA has left the Chinese-American star concerned over the future of tennis' development in the SAR. Chang said in a statement that he believed Hong Kong tennis professionals could compete at the 'highest level' if funding was 'appropriate'. 'The fact of the matter is that the Hong Kong development programme is working,' Chang said. 'The structure is in place and each time I return to Hong Kong I see the standards of the youngsters improving. 'I truly believe that if things continue with the appropriate level of support and funding, it will not be too long before we see both Hong Kong professional men and women competing at the highest levels of professional tennis.' Hong Kong tennis funding has been hit hard by the Hong Kong Sports Institute's decision to drop tennis from its focus sport programme. Officials estimate they need to find an extra $2 million - or face reducing the scale of their development programmes. Chang said he hoped young Hong Kong tennis players would continue to graduate from the Rejoice scheme into fully-fledged elite training programmes. 'What matters to me is the fact that I know that if a child develops a liking for tennis through our activities, and ultimately shows an aptitude, the structure is already in place through the Hong Kong Tennis Association to help that child become a first-rate tennis player through proper developmental channels,' he said. Chang also said the HKTA deserved more money than it was currently receiving. 'In my view, in most countries in the world, this level of participation, activity, and proven track record in running a comprehensive development programme would deserve the strongest level of financial support,' he said. HKTA executive officer Janet Hardisty admitted the association's development plans faced an uncertain future. 'What Michael has said is basically correct,' she told Sports Post. The association had still not secured office space at the HKSI for its two full-time tennis coaches. 'We don't know what is going to happen. We're trying to sort something out but at the moment it is not clear what will happen to our office at the Institute,' Hardisty said. The association is hoping to start its long push towards raising the extra cash with this weekend's expanded celebrity tennis event at Victoria Park.