British number three Naomi Broady is hoping to use the home crowd to her advantage as she prepares to play a professional tournament in Manchester for the first time.
The Stockport local will join a host of international players at the Aegon Manchester Trophy at the Northern Lawn Tennis Club between June 11-18.
Having hosted ATP Challenger Men’s events over the last two years, 2017 sees the event transfer to a ITF $100k women’s tournament, the largest ever prize money for a ITF Pro Circuit Tournament in the northwest.
The 27-year-old, who trains at the Northern, says she cannot wait for her first experience of playing at a home tournament.
“I’m just so excited to play in my own city. I was gutted when it was a men’s tournament and I was hoping they’d change it to a women’s so I’m really excited about that.
“I’m really excited to have all my friends and family along to watch. My grandma will come to watch and she hasn’t seen me in a match before so I’m really excited.
“I definitely think the home crowd, getting them behind you gives you an advantage. I’ve never really had that, I’ve never got to play a tournament in Manchester.”
The tournament comes three weeks after 22 people were killed and 116 injured by a suicide bomber at Manchester Arena.
And Broady says the days following the attack were tough and she felt as if she were in mourning for her city and the people that had died.
“One of the boys Martyn who died went to the same school as me, he was a friend and was in the same class as my sister so it’s very close to home.
“I think it’s really awful for everybody, for it to happen somewhere like the MEN where we all grew up going to concerts – my first concert was there and I’m sure for most other Mancunians it’s the same story.
“But it is just amazing to see everyone come together and it just shows that the community in Manchester is so strong and that’s what makes it such a special city.”
And according to Broady the tournament represents a chance for Manchester to show just how special a city it is.
“I can’t wait for people to come and see what a great city it is and I’m so proud.
“When the other players ask me advice on what to play I’m really encouraging them all to come and play Manchester just so I can show them my city and show them what a great place it is.”
The tournament is part of an expanded Aegon Trophy Series containing five tournaments across five different venues with $850,000 in total prize money.
It is part of a 2017 calendar which is providing more British grass court tournaments than ever which Broady says is brilliant for the women’s tour.
“It’s really good to see that we’ve got an equal schedule and it’s such a high level this year at Manchester with it being a $100,000, so that’s great.”
One of the targets of the LTA’s increased schedule is to inspire more people to pick up a racket and play tennis and the chance to see high quality women’s tennis is something that Broady thinks will help to encourage young girls to play.
“I think it’s important for them to know it is completely achievable if they want to do it themselves too.
“It obviously takes a lot of hard work but sometimes they think it’s harder than it is and is unachievable but that’s my main message to people, you can do it if you put your mind to it and it’s definitely not out of your reach.”
This year has been a mixed year for Broady with her her singles form stuttering after a strong start.
In doubles however she has excelled, in May she won the Trnava Open alongside fellow Brit Heather Watson and reached a career high doubles ranking of 56, but insists that singles remains her main focus.
“I’ve always enjoyed doubles and my best results have probably been in doubles. I don’t focus on it as much as I focus on the singles but I definitely use it as a way to keep my matches up.
“It definitely helps when I’m not getting the wins on the singles court to get some confidence and competitive play from my doubles.”
The British star has enjoyed a positive start to the grass season, making both the singles and doubles quarter finals at the Aegon Surbiton Trophy.
The Aegon Manchester Trophy is the highest level of ITF tournament meaning a strong player field but Broady is confident that she has every chance of winning.
“I’ve won a tournament at that level before so I know if I play my game I can do that again and with the home crowd behind me I don’t see why that’s not possible.
“Obviously I always go into every tournament wanting to win it but I respect there will be a lot of good players.”
Broady and partner Maria Sanchez have been seeded number one in the doubles draw and will face British pair Harriet Dart and Katy Dunne in the first round on Tuesday.
She is seeded sixth in the singles draw and will play the Indian Ankita Raina in the first round.
The tournament begins on Tuesday with tickets starting from £7, it will also be live screened on the LTA website, allowing fans who can’t make it to the Northern to watch.
For more information about the tournament and for ticket enquiries visit: https://www.lta.org.uk/major-events/aegon-trophy-series/aegon-manchester-trophy/
Image courtesy of Naomi Broady via Twitter, with thanks.