Former Hong Kong Davis Cup Star Michael Walker Returns to Top Role in HKTA

Michael Walker, newly appointed Director of Player Development of HKTA

Michael Walker will attempt to turn back the clock to the hey-day of local tennis when Hong Kong enjoyed rubbing shoulders with the big boys in the region taking part in Group One of the Asia/Oceania Zone Davis Cup competition.

Walker, the newly appointed Director of Player Development at the Hong Kong Tennis Association, is no stranger to the city having been a member of the Davis Cup squad in the early 90s when Hong Kong was at the top of its game being part of Group One.

It was more than two decades ago, in 1994, that Walker carried the responsibility of leading Hong Kong’s challenge in the premier men’s team competition. Today, he will not be out on the court, but his task will still be Herculean as he attempts to shape and engineer Hong Kong’s rise from Group Three in Davis Cup as well as nurture young talent towards the dream of turning professional.

“I’m very excited and looking forward at the challenge facing me,” Walker said. “I have gained a lot of experience over the last 30 years playing, coaching and managing high-performance players and I feel I can share that experience with the players and coaches at both the Hong Kong Tennis Association as well as the Hong Kong Sports Institute where I will work closely with head coach Amine Boustani.”

One of Walker’s main aims will be to help Hong Kong get back into the top echelon in Davis Cup competition. A big and powerful left-hander, Briton Walker represented Hong Kong from 1991 to 1994 at Davis Cup competition and has a solid record of winning 10 singles (losing five) and five doubles matches (losing three).

“My last match for Hong Kong was against Indonesia in Group One in Davis Cup in 1994. Unfortunately we lost that tie. That was a low point but I have had several memorable moments including when we defeated Thailand and playing against Japan in Group One quarterfinals. 

“The key then was our team spirit and that is something I will be looking to resuscitate. I don’t know the current crop of players very well as yet, but the main goal is to have a good team spirit, maximize the potential of the players and preparing in the best possible way.

“You can see how that benefits when you look at Great Britain who won the Davis Cup last year,” Walker added.

Walker has been involved in the British tennis set-up for a long time. Soon after leaving Hong Kong in 1994, he joined the Lawn Tennis Association managing performance programmes throughout the UK with coaches, players and parents and headed LTA academies.

He captained the Great Britain Under 16 boys team and, and after leaving the LTA  he was also in charge of an academy that coached and managed several ITF, ATP and WTA ranked players. Among the British players that trained at the academy included Kyle Edmunds, Dan Evans, Laura Robson and Johanna Konta.

Walker admits he is returning to somewhat unknown territory as far as the local players are concerned. But he is confident that with the support from the Hong Kong Sports Institute, the local game can soon be on an upswing.

“When I was last in Hong Kong, tennis was in the Hong Kong Sports Institute and getting back there is a huge boost for the sport. The SI is a great facility and I’m looking forward to working closely with Amine Boustani.

“I will follow on the work the HKTA has done in implementing and producing a successful talent identification programme. I aim to work very closely with coaches in Hong Kong to help, assist and to improve all players in all age groups to feed into the HKSI programme.

 

“The target is to work closely with the HKSI and achieve success with our juniors and seniors and help Hong Kong get back into the higher groups in Davis Cup and Fed Cup.”

Walker will use all his international contacts picked up over the last 30 years to encourage players and coaches to stop over in Hong Kong and train on their way to tournaments around the world.

“This will help enhance the experience of our players and coaches and help to create a high performance and learning environment,” Walker said.

“Our first goal is to get back into Group Two in Davis Cup and then take it from there. The key for any high performing individual or team is planning and preparation,” he added.

Walker will arrive in Hong Kong on 28 January and get into the swing of things right away.

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