The HKTA is deeply saddened by the passing of Yiu Wai Man, who left this world peacefully after a short battle with lymphoma cancer on April 23. Born in 1988, she was always considered the top prospect in her age-group growing up. She first joined Michael Chang’s Stars of the Future programme when she was 7. The confidence with which she exchanged groundstrokes with the former French Open champion has ensured the image of her as a crowd-pleaser to endure in the minds of many fans. She quickly rose up the ranks of the HKTA Junior Development Programme from the regional squads to A+ HKSI in 1998 and was promoted to Elite by the end of 1999.
She won her first national age-group title at the 1998 Hong Kong National Junior Tennis Championships where she captured the under-12 girls’ doubles at age 10. The following year, she captured both under-12 singles and doubles and became the No. 1 in her age-group in Hong Kong. She started competing in the girls’ under-14s in 2000 and won the doubles while finishing runner-up in singles.
In 2001, at age 13, she beat top-seeded Fed Cup player, Polly Lam, 7-6(4), 3-6, 7-5, to reach the ladies’ singles final at the Hong Kong National Tennis Championships and partnered Joanne Cheung to win the ladies’ doubles. She then progressed all the way to the CRC Open final before she was eventually upended by world No. 256 Tong Ka Po, who had just returned from three WTA Tour events on the Asian Swing. The teenager finished the year with a Hong Kong ranking of No. 4 in both ladies’ singles and doubles.
At age 12, Wai Man got her first ITF junior world ranking of No. 769 after reaching the last sixteen of the Grade 5 Calcutta in 2000. That same year, she was a member of the under-14 WJT girls’ team that took part in the Asia/Oceania Qualifying in Thailand. In 2001, she reached the girls’ doubles semifinals of the East Asian 14 & Under Championships and was a member of the under-16 NEC World Youth Cup team. After rounding out the year with a debut appearance at the Grade 2 Hong Kong Open Junior Championships, unbeknownst to her, she would embark on her final year of competitive tennis, as she was soon diagnosed with the autoimmune disease, lupus. In 2002, she travelled to the East Asian 14 & Under Championships and was again selected to represent Hong Kong in the under-14 WJT Asia/Oceania Qualifying. Her third and last ITF Junior Circuit event came at the Grade 5 Jakarta International Junior Open, where she fought her way to the quarterfinals as a qualifier before she was stopped by Indonesian Maya Rosa, a future top 75 junior.
HKTA Chief Executive Officer, Chris Lai, remarks: “Yiu Wai Man was a very talented and determined player, very sad that she left us at such a young age.”
HKTA Player Development Committee Chairman, Dr. Derek Ling, reminisces: “I was devastated back then that our best tennis prodigy’s tennis career was cut short by illness and I am absolutely gutted now that a promising young life was cut short by cancer.”