He was once part of a proud Hong Kong Davis Cup team who reached Group One status in Asia-Oceania. Now, he is running the show in a different sport - but the script hasn't changed much. Mark Bailey, the tennis player who sliced and volleyed his way to 13 years of representing and captaining Hong Kong in Davis Cup, has traded in his tennis shoes and racquet for a whistle and a hockey stick. But while Hong Kong tennis has slipped - the SAR presently occupy Asia-Oceania Group Three, the lowest Davis Cup rung in Asia - the national men's hockey team have scaled new heights. And rather than go the way of tennis, Bailey wants Hong Kong hockey to stay in Asian hockey's Group One - permanently. The SAR will compete against some of the world's top teams in next month's Asia Cup in Lahore - Pakistan coup fallout permitting - having been invited after they won the Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) Cup last December. For the second time in three years, Bailey has taken charge of a Hong Kong hockey team he thinks will eventually 'go places'. Whether Hong Kong will go places remains to be seen but there's a chance for the SAR to redeem themselves after their disappointing eighth-place finish at last year's Asian Games in Bangkok. Hong Kong have been given another chance to shine and this time Bailey wants the SAR to show what they are capable of. They will face such powers as Pakistan, India, South Korea and Malaysia - four of the world's top 16 hockey-playing nations. Since returning to the SAR on a six-month coaching contract in July, Bailey has drawn up two personal goals: to keep Hong Kong in Group One and to spring a surprise or two in Lahore. 'I would like to see Hong Kong avoid relegation,' he says. 'We're in Asia's elite group. It's been very hard to get there. The main thing is that we should stay in that group. 'It will be very difficult for us to return to Group One if we get relegated. We should try to stay among Asia's top eight,' says the former Hong Kong tennis champion, who returned to the SAR from Kuala Lumpur where he worked as national coach of Malaysia's tennis team for three years. 'My other goal is to see whether Hong Kong can cause an upset in the tournament - i.e. beat China or Kazakhstan. Fifty per cent of players in the Asia Cup are full-time players and it's not going to be easy. 'South Korea are the form team at the moment. The big powerhouses like Pakistan and India will also be there. Japan are coming up awfully quick. 'Then you have got Kazakhstan, then Hong Kong, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Every single game will be tough.' If Hong Kong could spring a surprise in Lahore, then history would be repeating itself. Bailey first took charge of the team three years ago on a voluntary basis - and tasted success by winning an invitational tournament in Singapore. It signalled the rise of Hong Kong hockey but more success was to come when the SAR won the AHF Cup on home soil at King's Park last December. 'When we went to Singapore, we won the tournament quite easily and came back with a trophy. 'At that time, I was not qualified [as a coach] but since my stay in Malaysia, where hockey is huge, I have attended a few courses and learnt a lot of things. My hockey knowledge has been lifted. 'I was offered a job with the Hong Kong Hockey Association and I came back in July hoping to get the Hong Kong team fit for the Asia Cup.' Bailey succeeded Australian Tony Gillon as national coach and, given his good rapport with the Hong Kong players, his appointment was popular. His departure as tennis coach from the Hong Kong Sports Institute 3.5 years ago came amid acrimony when his contract was not renewed. Bailey prefers not to dwell on the episode, but he can't help pointing out that when Hong Kong subsequently played Malaysia in a Davis Cup tie, he guided his new employers to victory. That is in past. These days hockey - and the fortunes of the Hong Kong team - occupy his thoughts. 'Hopefully, we can mould the team into a unit and get them to want to play [for Hong Kong]. The players have to want to play for you. Hong Kong hockey is unique because is so multi-racial, let's face it. 'There are Pakistanis, Indians, British and Eurasian players on our team. When they step on the pitch, they want to play for you as well and this is very important for the sport.' Bailey thinks he has a crop of talented players, although the departure of Briton Jerome Goudie last year came as a blow for Hong Kong. 'Jerome went away to see whether there was a chance for him to represent Great Britain. He was a good centre midfielder although he's not irreplaceable. Nobody is irreplaceable on the Hong Kong team.' Bailey is pleased with the talent he has at his disposal and is particularly impressed by Asghar Ali, the SAR's most gifted striker. 'Not only is he a super hockey player, everybody knows him in Asia. His workrate is exemplary. It's a pleasure to have him around,' said Bailey. 'The hockey scene is healthy at the moment. Our average age is just 24 and they have been together for three or four years. 'We have older players between 28-29, one player at 31 [Jaime Collaco] and the rest 26 or under. We're beginning to develop. We have to nurture them a bit longer. I'm in a nice position at the moment. 'We have got a good team, the kids are young and I have been saying that for four years. What we need is continuity.' Bailey said Hong Kong's Asian Games squad might had gone to Bangkok with expectations that were 'too high'. 'We went to the Asian Games expecting to beat Japan, yet Japan are a fully professional outfit and they travel all over the world. You have to be a bit realistic. 'Yes, we can compete against China. But the Asia Cup will be harder than the Asian Games. Kazakhstan will be there. They weren't at the Asian Games,' he says. 'After the Asia Cup, where do we go? We should keep the flow going. If we can practice three or four times a week that will help. Hockey is a big sport in Asia.'