HK to stage Asian event

HONG Kong will stage the Salem Asian Championships for the third year running after the pull-out of original hosts Hiroshima.

Japanese officials informed the Hong Kong-based Asian Tennis Federation that the stadium, which was to be used for next year's Asian Games, would not be ready in time for the November 1-7 event.

Hong Kong also saved the day last year when India decided not to stage the tournament.

Local promoters Pro-Tennis launched the event in 1991 for Asia's top players, with the reward for the men's singles winner being a wild card in the main draw of Hong Kong's top professional event, the Salem Open in spring.

China's Xia Jiaping won last year's event and is expected to defend his title at Victoria Park.

Hong Kong's 12 leading men's players will take part in a qualifying tournament, from October 29-31, to decide the territory's representatives at the Asian Championships.

The territory will be a hive of tennis activity during the last three months of the year.

The action starts with the Marlboro Championships in October, followed by the Hong Kong Masters for local players and a Challenger tournament in December.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong's Willy Chan failed to win a match during her three-tournament summer tour of the United States.

She lost in the first round in two of the tournaments and failed to make it past the second round in the third.

Chan has a good record in Asian professional tournaments and her coach at the Hong Kong Sports Institute, Mark Bailey said: ''She knows how hard it is, and realises she can't reach the quarter-finals of every tournament she enters.''