A top WTA official has given a shining assessment of the progress made by organizers of the Prudential Hong Kong Tennis Open in the future of its third outing next month.
Melissa Pine, vice-president of WTA Asia-Pacific, told the Post that managers had done “exceptional things” with the event and acclaimed it as a memorable stop on the calendar.
“It was the second highest attended ‘International’ event on the WTA last year so that is an exceptional outcome,” said Pine. “I’ve been there and have been in that stadium and it is a fantastic location. The stadium has a great feeling to it. To have such an event in the middle of the city is unique and it’s special.
Hong Kong returned to the WTA calendar in 2014 after an absence of 21 years.
“I have seen a huge improvement in the event in the last couple of years, so I have no doubt given the commitment of the organizers and the passion they have that the Open is going to continue to be a top event.”
Last month organizers of the competition publicized to the Post they had motivations to see the event prominent to the more memorable “Premier” stack of events in the next three years.
Pine, who has supervised the huge success of the WTA’s blue riband event, the WTA Finals, since it was relocated to Singapore in 2014, also applauded the strong point of the roster for this year’s tournament.
“The player line-up this year with three former world number ones, the current world number one, Caroline Wozniacki, Venus Williams, JelenaJankovic … just goes to show that the players really enjoy Hong Kong,” Pine said. “I think that the event will just continue to go from strength to strength.”
Tennis’ acceptance in Asia is booming with 19 events on the local swing of the Tour currently equaled to just two back in 2008 and the WTA is looking to capitalize on its popularity to boost take-up at junior level, as well as affiliating social services to work with needy children.
“We have more events in Asia than we ever had before, and that is a really great sign,” Pine said. “The support that we’ve had with Future Stars is another sure sign that interest in the sport is growing, more players are coming into the game. Tennis is really on an upward trajectory in this region. I think there’s a great future ahead for Asian tennis and we look forward to contributing to that legacy.”
As part of the Future Stars ingenuity, Hong Kong’s youths will be given the chance to test themselves against the best in the province at October’s WTA Finals in Singapore.
Two local players will be chosen at under-14 and under-16 level to represent the city against 17 other nations in the region.
“They will have mentoring opportunities from the stars, they will participate in official ceremonies, they will receive autographs, tennis racquets from their idols and this is a really life-changing opportunity for these girls.”