June Ling Yuen-yuen holds a special place in the annals of local tennis - she is the only person to have won an Asian Games medal in the sport for Hong Kong. In 1962, at the Jakarta Games, Ling and Sri Lankan Ranjini Jayasuriya won the silver medal in the women's doubles, being beaten for gold by a Japanese pair. 'I was the only tennis player from Hong Kong and she was from Ceylon [Sri Lanka]. I didn't have a partner but the authorities gave us permission to enter as a doubles team. I knew nothing about Ranjini, but we clicked and it was a proud moment to win an Asian Games medal,' the 70-year-old Ling said. Little did she know her feat would stand for almost half a century. And her accomplishment is unlikely to be matched - at least by a female competitor - at the Guangzhou Asian Games in November. This is because the Sports Federation & Olympic Committee of Hong Kong has refused to approve three women players - Jessica Yang Zijun, Venise Chan Wing-yau and Polly Lam Po-kuen - for the Games. The trio was nominated by the Hong Kong Tennis Association (HKTA), but have all been knocked back on the grounds they fail to meet the selection criteria. Hong Kong will send only one female player, Zhang Ling. Originally from the mainland, Zhang will not be able to walk the same path Ling took 48 years ago because the rules do not allow players to partner someone from another country. Ling's brother is Kenneth Tsui Kam-cheung, the president of the HKTA. He is incensed that the Hong Kong Olympic committee has failed to see the bigger picture in shunning three of his most promising athletes. 'We needed these girls to play at the Asian Games as it was crucial for our chances to regain elite status at the Sports Institute. They have put in so much time and we have put in so many resources but it is all for nothing,' Tsui complained. Tennis was once an elite sport. It doesn't have the backing of the academy any more, resulting in the HKTA having to pay for its own coaches, like the man behind the Davis Cup team, Ray Kelly. The lack of facilities and a support system is also sorely felt by the HKTA. Davis Cup member Yu Hiu-tung was once a scholarship athlete, but today he has to eke out a living and has been forced to give up his plans to play full-time. Tsui wrote to the SF&OC appealing the decision, but it was to no avail, with the supreme body insisting the women failed to meet a complex selection criteria that included the need to attain top-eight finishes in a number of events including the world championships and the Asian championships. Strangely they all meet one criterion - having finished in the top eight at last year's China National Games - but this result seems to have been ignored by the SF&OC. All three women are young and have potential. Chan and Lam are both locally born, while Yang came from the mainland many years ago. Chan is studying in the US and was named an 'All American'. The US collegiate system is highly competitive and is the breeding ground for talented players, not only from the US but from all over the world. To finish in the top 15 is no mean feat by Chan. Lam, along with Chan, represented Hong Kong at the last Asian Games in Doha. She has been a stalwart of the Fed Cup team. Yang is ranked 637 in the WTA world rankings and won a couple of futures tournaments last year. She was a top-20 junior. Ling, whose father played Davis Cup for China, is perplexed by it all. 'Perhaps it is because the standards across Asia have risen. But our players are also good and we have done well in a lot of other areas.' Ling's son is Derek Ling Hay-ming, the non-playing captain of the successful Davis Cup squad who last weekend ensured Hong Kong would remain in Group Two in the Asia/Oceania Zone. Two members of his team - Yu and Martin Sayer - have been granted permission by the SF&OC to appear at the Asian Games, along with Michael Lai Xiaopeng and Jack Hui Cheuk-wai. Sayer, who played the key role in the 3-2 win over Sri Lanka last weekend, will carry Hong Kong's hopes of a medal. Zhang will have to fight a lone battle in the women's competition and will not be able to participate in the doubles. Derek Ling revealed the biggest problem facing the game was its ability to retain young talent. Most players, once they reach 23 or 24, are pressurised into looking for a job and a career. 'We lose many of our top players at their peak. We have a good junior programme, but the issue is how to hold on to these players. We need to have a career path for these players so they will be convinced tennis can be good for them,' Derek Ling said. Already there are rumbles that Sayer will be lost to Hong Kong next year. He is looking for a job in the US. But thankfully for Hong Kong, he made himself available for the Davis Cup tie as well as the Asian Games. So did US-based Chan, but she has been shunned. The HKTA needs all its best players for the Asian Games in a bid to try to meet the stringent requirements for becoming an elite sport. But by snubbing the three women, the SF&OC has made the job harder, if not impossible.