Atypical pneumonia could still have an adverse effect on Hong Kong's chances at the World Championships, says men's coach Chan Kong-wah. The Sars outbreak prevented the team joining China's training camp for the tournament, but Chan is also worried that it might have dulled their competitive edge. 'The form is good, but we have had problems because of Sars. We haven't played since the Asian Championships in Bangkok. Two months without games worries me,' he said. 'That's too long. For the last two years we've played at least one tournament a month, sometimes two. It's not easy to just find your form.' 'Table tennis is one of Hong Kong's best chances in the Olympic games. The World Championships are important for our preparations for the Olympics. It's also important because we need to get our rankings higher so we don't have as many players having to go through qualifying,' he added. As if to prove Chan right, the Hong Kong squad opened their campaign yesterday with Song Ah-sim and Leung Chu-yan scoring a nervous 12-10, 11-9, 11-7 victory over England's Andrew Baggaley and Georgina Walker in the qualifying group of the mixed doubles, during which head coach Hui Jun was particularly critical of their service returns. Song and Leung were also shaky early on in their next match against Norway's Lill Kristin Wenneberg and Raymor Gonzales, recovering from 4-9 down in the first game, to go through to the main draw 13-11, 11-4, 15-13. There they will join Hong Kong's Asian Games gold medallists Tie Yana and Cheung Yuk, and the Lau Sui-fei/Li Ching and Kwok Fong-fong/Ko Lai-cheuk partnerships, who are due to play their first matches late on day two (tomorrow, Hong Kong time). However Li, the veteran of the squad at 28 years of age, conceded their chances of overall success were not great. 'The draw in the mixed doubles is not so good for us, but Hong Kong's mixed doubles is not at a high level apart from Tie and Cheung. I think we've a better chance in the men's doubles.' Li, meanwhile, has taken 17-year-old World Championships debutant Tse Ka-chun under his wing, working with the local youngster on improving the amount of slice on his serve and honing his follow through on his top-spin forehand, prior to his qualifying matches in the men's singles (this afternoon, Hong Kong time) against Vietnam's Nguyen Nam Hai and the lowly ranked Jonathan Chewtchouk of Tahiti. 'I think he needs more spin on his serve because it'll give him a better chance of attacking the return. If the service is not good enough the opponent will attack,' Li said. 'I think he can win and qualify, but I think maybe he'll lose in the first round. The first round for him will be very difficult because he has no experience and his technique is not good enough yet to play at that level. Tse is a better attacking player - he's a typical Asian type of player. But if his defence was better he could maybe reach the second or third round here.' The Hong Kong schoolboy said: 'He's told me just to relax and to watch other players' technique so that I can make some big improvements afterwards.'