Zhuhai - China needs to start producing top players if there are going to be more and bigger tournaments in the country, a senior ATP tennis official said on Thursday.
Alison Lee was speaking at the inaugural Zhuhai Championships, among a dozen women's and men's tournaments taking place in China this year.
There is talk of several of those competitions upgrading, which for example would mean more prize money, but Lee, ATP international executive vice president, said: "We need the players first before we go those next steps.
"And once you get more players... imagine if China had a whole lot of top players.
"The pressure then to have more events in China, I mean that's when the ball will really start to gather speed.
"But without those top players I don't think that we can get the momentum of more events or higher than we have now, but it comes with the players."
China, the world's most populous country, has only ever produced one singles Grand Slam champion, the now-retired Li Na.
There is currently only one Chinese player, Wang Qiang, inside the top 20 in the men's or women's rankings.
There is a particular dearth of competitive Chinese men.
Lee said the ATP was prepared to play the "long game".
"But to have success in China, when we get the Chinese champions coming through, it's going to totally change the landscape of the game," she said.