Hong Kong sports stars, such as boxer Rex Tso Sing-yu and golfer Tiffany Chan Tsz-ching, aren’t just inspirations for local teens, they’re also role models for young athletes beyond our borders. Terence Tche Kun-teng is Macau’s top junior tennis player, and he says the success of Hong Kong sport has motivated him to practise harder, in hopes of one day representing the 852. Terence’s mother is from Hong Kong, but up until about five years ago, he rarely visited his “other home town”.
“I only went to Hong Kong a few times to do shopping,” said the Year 11 student from the International School of Macao. “Even at Chinese New Year, most of the time our family and friends would come visit us in Macau.”
Terence has won three consecutive under-18 boys’ titles of the Macau Junior Tennis Championship and dominated in the Macau A grade inter-school tennis competition for the past two years. For an extra challenge, the 16-year-old played in many tournaments in an older age bracket. So when he heard he had the chance to sharpen his skills in Hong Kong, he went for it.
“When I was 10 or 11, tennis player Marco Leung told me that I was eligible to play in Hong Kong tournaments,” says Terence. “So my mother went back to Hong Kong to apply for my identity card, and since then I started to visit more for matches.”
Those first matches proved to be a big challenge for Terence, who had found a lot of success at home. His parents urged him to just focus on playing his best, and not worry about the match results.
“He has to know there are people stronger than him, and dominating in Macau doesn’t mean he can copy the success at other places,” said his mother, Ada. “The most important thing for him is to learn from each match. Getting better is the ultimate goal. Some people may feel discouraged after multiple defeats but for Terence that was not the case.”
Tennis is quickly becoming popular in Hong Kong, thanks in part to the Hong Kong Tennis Association, which has organised the annual WTA Hong Kong Open since 2014.
The Hong Kong Sports Institute labelled tennis a tier A elite sport two years ago, and guaranteed it financial support until 2019. That support means junior elites can now practise on a full-time basis.
Terence says he is still trying to reach the level of Hong Kong’s leading juniors.
“I am still far away from catching up with those who train at the Sports Institute, but I think I am comparable to players from other HKTA training centres, having played against them in the Junior Tennis Series and other youth competitions,” said Terence, who recently got his first point for the International Tennis Federation (ITF) junior rankings. He’s the youngest Macanese player in history to achieve that, and he hopes to go further in the sport.
Upon graduation next year, he plans to study in the United States, where he will compete in college tennis tournaments to get an idea of his standing as a professional tennis player.
The ambitious star with double citizenship says he is more than happy to keep playing for Macau, but he’d gladly represent Hong Kong in the future if the coaches here find him good enough.
“Hong Kong offers a fair environment and more opportunities for athletes, but at the same time it’s a more competitive scene than Macau,” said Terence. “People around the world get to know more about Hong Kong athletes because of their excellent performance these days. They built up a reputation and I will be really proud if I can become one of them.”