The dubious future of tennis at the Hong Kong Sports Institute will not deter teenager Jack Wong Hong-kit from embarking on his professional career after defending the SCAA/Sergio Tacchini Open men’s singles title on Sunday.
The 18 year-old Hong Kong number one beat 30-year-old Sports Institute (SI) coach Karan Rastogi, who won a singles bronze medal at the 2010 Asian Games when he represented India, 7-5, 6-4 at King’s Park.
Wong is the only full-time men’s tennis player under the Sports Institute tier A programme and acknowledged the imminent problems the sport is facing after failing to meet the requirements in the current two-year review to stay as one of the 17 elite sports.
“We will be given a grace period of the next two years, and if we fail to win a medal at the 2018 Asian Games during the next review period, we will face the axe,” said Wong.
“It’s never going to be easy of meeting the tall target, although I did beat an former Asian Games medallist today but he has already passed his best years and retired.
“We have a very small squad under the SI programme which gives us extra difficulty. After all, the standard of Asian tennis is growing very fast. Countries like Japan, South Korea and even China are very strong and it’s not easy to beat them in the Asian Games to win a medal.
“But having said that, it doesn’t mean we won’t give up without putting up a fight. It’s difficult, but it is not impossible.”
Wong, who is currently ranked tied for 993rd in the world, quit his studies three years ago to become a full-time tennis player and reached the final of August’s Indonesia F1 Futures event in Jakarta having helped Hong Kong win promotion back to Group II in the Davis Cup in Iran in July’s Asia/Oceania play-off.
“The SI elite programme support is always important, but I’ll still continue to purse my dreams in tennis with or without the support,” said Wong.
“I’ll give myself six years to see how far I can go as my target is to break into the top 100 when I am 24.
“I also hope my commitment to the sport can attract more potential players to follow in my footsteps so that we can have a bigger squad to help pursue success.
“I helped Hong Kong come back to Davis Cup group two in the Asia-Pacific region and also reached the final of a Future tournament recently. So far so good.”