China's top player Peng Shuai will have to give a written guarantee of a gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics if she wants financial help from her country to turn professional, Chinese media said on Friday.
The hard hitting 19-year-old amateur, who reached a career-high ranking of 31st in the world in August, said in December she wanted to leave the national set up and strike out on her own.
National Tennis Management Centre director Sun Jinfang said on Thursday that Peng had approached her about leaving the team and she had agreed on condition the teenager took full responsibility for herself, Titan Sports reported.
"Later she came back and said she wanted financial support so she could go out on her own," Sun said. "I said fine, but first you have to sign a promise that you will win gold at the Olympics.
"Our budget is completely aimed at the 2008 Games. Who could agree to letting you give up your Olympic duties to go professional?"
Peng, who trains most of the year in Florida, has had the most success of China's emerging women tennis players.
She has taken down some impressive names in her short career, including former world number one Kim Clijsters, 2004 French Open champion Anastasia Myskina and Elena Dementieva and finished last year ranked 36th in the world.
China has been aggressively pushing tennis since Sun Tiantian and Li Ting won a surprise women's doubles gold at the 2004 Olympics and Peng represents one of the country's best chances for a tennis medal when it hosts the 2008 Games.
But she has said that training conditions on the national squad were holding her back, echoing complaints made last year by veteran team mate Li Na, who won China's first WTA title in Guangzhou in 2004.
She has also complained that much of what she earned on tour last year went to China's sports administrations.
Sun said the national tennis centre had recently hired several foreign coaches to help players with conditioning and footwork and wanted to encourage their patriotism.
"We want them to have feelings of belonging, safety and honour as individuals in a perfect team and inspire them to want to pay back the motherland for raising them," she said.
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