Domestic sport returned on Sunday with the staging of the Elite Invitational Tennis Tournament at the Chinese Recreation Club, as local athletes were given a boost after a four-month break from competition because of the pandemic. Despite two locally transmitted cases of Covid-19 being reported on Sunday – breaking a 21-day streak of no local infections – Hong Kong’s top eight men’s and women’s players gathered at Tai Hang for the opening day of the event. “We have all been longing for a bit of competition since last playing in Davis Cup in early March,” said Brian Yeung Pak-long, who didn’t seem to show the effects of his long lay-off when smashing past junior player, Sebastian Nothhaft 6-0, 6-1. “I don’t worry too much about the pandemic situation. Hong Kong has done a good job in containing the virus while organisers [of the tournament] have also taken precautionary measures to provide a safe playing environment. And as a player we have done our part in keeping social distancing and putting on face masks when not playing.” Hong Kong unlikely to have ‘Djokovic’ moment, says Eudice Chong With the government still imposing a 50-person limit for group gathering at public places, organisers had to follow strict guidelines on attendance with spectators from outside the club not allowed to attend. “We were expecting that limit would be further relaxed this month and that we could have brought in more spectators but unfortunately that didn’t happen,” said a spokesman for the organisers. “We therefore could only treat our [club] members to the event [as spectators] and even so we still had to divide the spectator areas into three sections with a maximum of 25 persons each. “We wanted to provide the fan experience to more spectators but there was little we could do.” Despite the limited number of spectators, players were grateful for the tournament with many of them playing for the first time in months. Hong Kong women’s number one Eudice Chong, playing her first event since March, showed little signs of rust when she overcame youngster Kelly Leung 6-3, 6-2 in a match played under the scorching sun. “I found it a bit difficult to get into a rhythm in the first set. I squandered a number of easy volleys when coming into the net,” said the world number 376 in singles. “The second set was better as I think I played 70 to 80 per cent of my best today. We all haven’t played for such a long time.” Both Yeung and Chong said they had focused a lot on strength conditioning during training over the last several months, acquiring more power in their game, but mentally there’s still a lot more work to do. “The international tour is planning to resume in August but no one knows at this stage if it can really take place,” said Chong, a doubles expert who boasts a world ranking of 158. “If we cannot still play by then, the Hong Kong National Championships in late August will be our next event and this tournament can serve as good practice for it.” Hong Kong Tennis Open left off WTA’s provisional calendar for 2020 Youngster Cody Wong Hong-yi also got off to a winning start on Sunday, beating Ng Kwan-yau 6-3, 6-1. “It’s really nice to get back on to the court after such a long break,” said Wong. “We normally have competitions every week and it’s a bit weird not playing for so long.” The eight men’s and women’s players are divided into two groups with the top two from each qualifying for the semi-finals on Saturday before reaching Sunday’s final. Both the men’s and women’s champions will be awarded HK$10,000 prize money.