Lynn Zhang Ling knows all about the gulf between the public's perception of a tennis professional's life and the actual day-to-day realities for most players on the circuit. What we see and read about mostly are the days and nights of glory and the feasts of riches for those at the top end of the game. What hardly rates a mention is the events that provide the pure bread and butter of a living for the likes of 25-year-old Zhang and others ranked in the game's farthest reaches. There are smaller tournaments in Hong Kong that the girls can play, but this takes things to a different level Lynn Zhang Hong Kong's number one is also the world's number 347 and the grind of qualifiers are simply a fact of life that adds a few extra days of matches before an event begins, should they even make it into the main draw. Lucky breaks are most often few and far between and that's why the arrival of the US$250,000 Prudential Hong Kong Tennis Open last year had Zhang buzzing - and it still does 12 months later as we move closer to the October 10 to 18 staging of the event's second edition. Read all our Hong Kong Open coverage here "Every opportunity is a great opportunity," says Zhang, who has been granted a wild card into the main draw of the event that boasts former grand slam winners Venus Williams, Victoria Azarenka and Samantha Stosur, along with defending champion Sabine Lisicki, Garbine Muguruza, Eugenie Bouchard, Caroline Garcia and Alize Cornet. "There are smaller tournaments in Hong Kong that the girls can play, but this takes things to a different level. There is no doubt tennis in Hong Kong has been missing this. "Some of us get the chance to play against the top players while the young players and fans can come and see the stars up close. How they play, how they prepare, their attitude towards the sport - these are things we can all learn from," says Zhang, who is in Guangzhou at a training a camp trading shots with the likes of China's highest ranked singles player Zheng Saisai, the world number 66. Since turning pro at 18, Zhang's plied her trade mainly on the ITF development circuit - while being a mainstay of the Hong Kong Fed Cup and national teams - and she has been playing upwards of 20 tournaments a year at destinations near and far. She's not complaining - that's impossible, she says, when she is living her dream - but there are times when she is away, and she has lost, and she thinks of home. "Sometimes it can be tough, body wise and mentally," she says. "You are away from your home and travelling for so long. You get tired of it, to be honest. "But there are a few of us who travel as a group - Saisai and others - and that makes life easier. Support is very important. We all travel together and it makes it more fun. We try to help each other." Support comes from the Chinese players who have had the greatest success on tour, with the likes of French and Australian Open winner Li Na, and doubles specialists Peng Shuai (Wimbledon and French Open winner with Taiwan's Hsieh Su-wei) and Zheng Jie (Wimbledon and Australian Open winner with Yan Zi) taking the Hong Kong players under their wings. "What Li Na did for Asian tennis and Chinese tennis was amazing," says Zhang. "Peng Shuai and Zheng Jie were the same. They showed us all what can be achieved if you work hard. "They had tough times, but never gave up. They gave us all something to look up to and they have all been there for me so many times. Even today they help to teach me about tennis and about life, too." Support throughout Zhang's career has also come from the Hong Kong Tennis Association and more recently as an elite individual at the Sports Institute and she says part of her motivation comes from a feeling that she wants to repay the organisation's faith and help inspire the next generation of players, too. "They have both taken care of me very well over the years," she says. "This is something that motivates me. I want to repay them by improving as a player and by improving my results. "I am still fighting to get where I think I deserve to be. I have been working really hard, but results wise I am not happy. "I am not satisfied and - with my coach, my sport psychologist and my fitness coach - we are still working together to find ways to improve." Still, the past 12 months have seen Zhang win in the first round of the Malaysian Open - a first for a Hong Kong player since the 1980s - while her efforts over the past few years combined have helped tennis regain the support of the Sports Institute after a break of seven years. "For our junior players, being at the institute will be huge," she says. "As they come up they will get more support - things like physiotherapy, nutrition, sports science, better facilities for training. "The better quality will be very important for them. There is less pressure finance wise, too. All these things can help a young player focus on the game." Zhang's focus now is on preparing for the Hong Kong Open - last year she was bundled out in the first round 6-1, 6-4 by second-seed Daniela Hantuchova - and eventually reaching her goal of breaking into the world's top 50. "My plan is to keep training, keep learning, keep playing and keep going," she says.