Updated: Monday, 14th October 2019 @ 6:12pm

LTA CEO: Manchester pre Wimbledon women's event a 'major step in British tennis grass court evolution'

LTA CEO: Manchester pre Wimbledon women's event a 'major step in British tennis grass court evolution'

| By Tom Avery

The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) has announced, in combination with Wimbledon's All England Lawn Tennis Club, changes to further enhance the British grass court season in the lead up to The Championships.

One of the major changes will see Northern Lawn Tennis Club in Didsbury, South Manchester, host a $100,000 ITF Women’s Pro Circuit Event from 2017. 

World class tennis returned to The Northern Lawn Tennis Club in 2015 and the new women’s-only tournament, with increased prize money, will feature as part of the highest value tournament circuit at this level in the world leading into a Grand Slam tournament.

Neville Hewer, Chairman of the Northern Lawn Tennis Club, said: “The Northern is proud of its 135-year history of holding a pre-Wimbledon tournament in Manchester.

“The new ITF Women’s Pro Circuit event will attract the top up-and-coming players of the future and will show the strength in depth of women’s tennis.

“With the fantastic commitment of Manchester City Council we will ensure the event will be a great showcase for our sport in Manchester and the Northwest, and will enable us to increase the momentum of community engagement that we have established.”

These tournament calendar enhancements will provide athletes, fans, sponsors and broadcasters an even better platform to showcase the sport, ensuring more streamlined and effective tournament operations.

Michael Downey, LTA CEO, said: “After delivering an outstanding event in 2015, we are delighted to see Manchester rewarded moving forward. 

“This is all about delivering a bigger and better set of grass court tournaments for the players and our fans. 

“It represents another major step in the evolution of the British grass court circuit.”

Downey is hopeful that these new modifications to the calendar will see grass court tennis in Britain thrive and inspire youngsters to engage with tennis.

“Ultimately, we want to jump-start the important summer season of participation by trying to ‘own the month of June’ with an extensive and high quality series of Major Tennis Events to help inspire more people to pick up a racket and play tennis.”

Across the board, the player fields at Queen’s, Birmingham, Eastbourne and Nottingham 2015 were the best-ever assembled for a pre-Wimbledon grass court season, resulting in a cumulative record attendance total.

With the 2017 calendar providing more British grass court tennis than ever the LTA will be hopeful that attendance totals continue to soar and that British Tennis reaps the rewards heading into Wimbledon.

From 2017, the British Grass Court season will run as follows:

June 5-11 (week 1): 

* Aegon Surbiton Trophy at Surbiton Racket & Fitness Club (joint ITF Women’s Pro Circuit & ATP Challenger event)

June 12-18 (week 2):

Combined WTA International Aegon Open Nottingham & Aegon Nottingham Trophy (ATP Challenger) event at Nottingham Tennis Centre

* Aegon Manchester Trophy at Northern Lawn Tennis Club, Manchester (ITF Women’s Pro Circuit)

June 19-25 (week 3):

* Aegon Championships at The Queen’s Club, London (ATP World Tour 500 event)

* Aegon Classic at Edgbaston Priory Club, Birmingham (WTA Premier)

* Aegon Ilkley Trophy at Ilkley Lawn Tennis & Squash Club (joint ITF Women’s Pro Circuit & ATP Challenger event)

June 26-July 1 (week 4):

* Aegon International (joint WTA Premier & ATP World Tour 250 event) at Devonshire Park, Eastbourne

* Wimbledon Qualifying, Bank of England Sports Club, Roehampton, London

July 3-16 (weeks 5 & 6):

* The Championships, Wimbledon

Image courtesy of British Tennis via YouTube, with thanks.