‘Special’ Hong Kong Tennis Open can take step up in status on tour, says WTA chief
Steve Simon backs the Victoria Park tournament to get an upgrade in status on the tour if it keeps improving
The Prudential Hong Kong Tennis Open has the potential to become a key fixture in the calendar, according to the chief executive of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA).
Steve Simon has backed the Victoria Park event to take the next step up to “Premier” status on the tour, which would increase the prize money from the current level of US$500,000 to up to US$1 million as well as ranking points on offer, thus attracting even more top players.
“We would want to see this grow over time and get higher numbers than it is now,” said Simon.
“But Hong Kong is an unbelievably great destination to come to. It’s world renowned, somewhere that people want to see.
“The experience the players are having around this event is tremendous and we’re every happy, there’s nothing but support.
“From everything I’ve seen from the tournament manager there is a desire to keep evolving and improving the event.”
The tournament, with it’s 3,600-seat centre court arena at the Victoria Park Tennis Centre, returned in its current guise in 2014 and has steadily grown in stature.
Coming at the end of the Asia swing, the Hong Kong Tennis Open is an ideal tournament for players to fine-tune their game ahead of – and in some cases qualify for – the season-ending events in Singapore and Zhuhai later in the month.
“Victoria Park is a beautiful setting for this event, it’s got a quaint atmosphere which I like,” continued Simon. “It’s got tremendous potential, and I’m very excited with what I’ve seen.
“It’s not about the size of the tournament or the stadium, it’s about how it’s set up, what’s the environment and feeling when you come in.
“The feeling here is ‘let’s have fun and some excitement’. I just walked through the [tournament] village outside, there are lots of children out there playing and having a great time. If you’re doing that then you’re on right track.
“It’s important that every tournament takes on its own personality. The worst thing is to just be a copycat. You can learn from others.
“But every venue is unique – here we’re in the middle of a park. There’s lots of opportunities. It’s a new way to enjoy an event. We’ve got to build around that and make it special.”