Elder Chang aiming to practise what he preaches
CARL Chang, coach and elder brother of Hongkong favourite Michael Chang, will take part in today's qualifying tournament of the Salem Hongkong Open at Victoria Park.
Carl, who has coached his top-10 sibling for the past two years, takes on Britain's Chris Bailey in the first round of a strong 32-man qualifying draw which sees former Hongkong Open finalist Alex Antonitsch top the seedings.
Austrian Antonitsch, ranked 111 in the world, faces a tough first-round match against Richard Matuszewski.
The popular 27-year-old, regarded by Hongkong fans as the court jester of international tennis, reached the final of the inaugural Hongkong Open in 1990, losing to Pat Cash.
Antonitsch has to win three matches to be one of the four players to win places in the main draw, which starts on Monday.
Also seeded to enter the main draw are Zimbabwe's Byron Black, the Czech Republic's Daniel Vacek and American Robbie Weiss.
Black, a formidable doubles player, is ranked only one place below Antonitsch and takes on Daniel Nestor in his opening match.
Should he beat Nestor, Black then plays either Swede Peter Nyborg or Hongkong's Thorsten Poelzl, who was awarded a wild card for the qualifiers.
Vacek meets Filipino Felix Barrientos, while Weiss plays Greg Rusedski.
Barrientos will be hoping to repeat his giant-killing acts of 1991 when he beat former Wimbledon finalist Kevin Curren on his way to the quarter-finals.
Another wild card went to Hongkong player Melvin Tong, who plays fifth-seeded German Patrick Baur in the first round.
Baur is ranked 128 in the world and is likely to prove too strong for Tong, who will still benefit from the experience of playing in his first major international tournament.
Weiss, ranked 122 in the world is likely to face a tough challenge from veteran South African Christo van Rensburg.
The Texas-based van Rensburg is ranked just seven places below Weiss and is a strong candidate for one of the main draw places.
Weiss and van Rensburg could meet in the third-round match to decide who goes through to the main draw.
But the 30-year-old van Rensburg, who achieved a career-high ranking of 19 in February 1988, must overcome the challenge of Patrick Rafter in the first round.
One of the main draw-cards of the qualifying rounds is another South African Gary Muller, who in 1991 defeat Michael Chang in the quarter-finals of the main draw.
Muller, who was ranked 49th in the world three years ago, meets Canadian Martin Laurendeau in the first round.
Four players whose rankings were not high enough to gain an automatic place in the qualifiers stand by as alternatives in case of injury or withdrawals.
Don Johnson, ranked 283, 285-ranked Clinton Marsh, 297-ranked Doug Flach and 507-ranked Heate Denman will enter the qualifiers should the vacancy arise.
Meanwhile, defending Hongkong champion Jim Courier arrived in the territory yesterday 24 hours after being beaten in the third round of the Japan Open by fellow-American Jonathan Stark.
Courier yesterday lost his number one ranking to compatriot Pete Sampras.
Qualifying draw: Alex Antonitsch v Richard Matuszewski; Markus Zoecke v Mark Petchey; Fernon Wibier v Sebastian Lareau; Dave Randall v Jason Stoltenberg; Byron Black v Daniel Nestor; Thorsten Poelzl v Peter Nyborg; Carl Chang v Chris Bailey; Jan Apell v Kenny Thorne; Daniel Vacek v Felix Barrientos; Albert Chang v Philippe Pech; Martin Laurendeau v Gary Muller; Melvin Tong v Patrick Baur; Robbie Weiss v Greg Rusedski; Kent Kinnear v Kevin Ullyett; Steve Bryan v Jonas Bjorkman; Patrick Rafter v Christo van Rensburg.