Tennis lovers in the Dispatch district have been served an ace that will bring the world’s best players to their doorstep.
For it has been announced that Nottingham Tennis Centre is to stage two highly prestigious pre-Wimbledon grasscourt tournaments for men and women players next year.
This follows extensive partnership discussions between the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) and Nottingham City Council.
The news means, in effect, the return of the Nottingham Open, a popular tournament that has been won in the past by current Wimbledon champion and former British player, Greg Rusedski. It was last held in 2008.
The Men’s ATP 250 tournament will be staged in the week immediately before the Wimbledon Championships, providing players from the world’s top 50 men an excellent environment in which to train, compete and finalise their preparations.
Although the event has been agreed by the ATP for just one year initially, it could be secured for future years if it is a success.
A new women’s international tournament, with agreed prize money of $250,000, will be held in Nottingham the week after the Roland Garros French Open (two weeks before the men’s tourney) and has already been secured for a minimum three-year-period from 2015 to 2018.
Nottingham Tennis Centre has been selected as the venue for these prestigious tournaments thanks to recognition of its international-standard facilities.
It is the largest public tennis centre in the UK with 39 courts, including 11 indoors, 9 grasscourts and 19 hard courts.
To win the new tournaments, the University Boulevard centre beat competition from the Edgbaston Priory Club in Birmingham and Devonshire Park in Eastbourne.
To support the tournaments, the current Nottingham Festival of Tennis will be developed to involve even more local schools. It is a programme attracting hundreds of local schoolchildren to Nottingham Tennis Centre to play tennis and then get the chance to watch the professionals in action on court.
Coun Dave Trimble (Lab), portfolio holder for leisure, culture and tourism at Nottingham City Council, said: “It’s excellent news that these prestigious tournaments, with their world-class tennis players, are returning to Nottingham.
“They will add to our already fantastic reputation as a globally recognised city of sport, as well as helping to increase interest and participation in tennis for local people.
“We’re also anticipating a number of economic benefits as a result of hosting the tournaments, which will draw players, broadcasters and spectators from around the world.”