Southsea to host Wimbledon curtain-raiser

Southsea tennis fans will be looking forward to a summer precursor to Wimbledon
Southsea tennis fans will be looking forward to a summer precursor to Wimbledon

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A MAJOR pro-tennis tournament featuring elite players is heading for Southsea as a curtain raiser to Wimbledon.

The ITF Pro Circuit women’s tournament is to be held in Southsea.

Players will compete for theAegon Southsea Trophy from June 27-30 – just one week before Wimbledon.

$100,000 (781,000) of prize money will be up for grabs in the event, which will be free for the public to attend.

The event will feature the top 100 women’s tennis players currently in the UK, with Canoe Lake Leisure – who will be playing host to the event next month – expecting a fierce four days of competition.

Based just a brisk walk away from Southsea Beach, Canoe Lake has been massively upgraded in the past four years by Canoe Lake Leisure, who have made major investments into the site.

Two resurfaced hard courts and four top-specification artificial courts – which can be used all year round – are the biggest changes to the site, which make it the ideal location for the tournament to take place.

Just a short walk from the seafront, the event is something that Canoe Lake Leisure (who now own the site) are very excited about.

John Cooke, director of Canoe Lake Leisure said: ‘This is the inaugural tournament – so it is the first time this has happened anywhere in the local area.

‘We are incredibly excited about it all; we don’t quite know just how many people will turn up to the event, but with the backing of the ITA and by making it free to the public, we’re expecting a good turnout.

‘The other ITF Pro Circuit events have seen about 1,000 people come through the gates, so it would be great if we could mirror that success.’

John, who has been the director since Canoe Lake Leisure formed in 2013, says that the venue is one of the biggest philanthropy projects in the city’s history.

He is hoping that the event will spark interest in tennis across all ages in the city.

He explained: ‘The main objective is to raise the participation rate from everyone in the city, from the kids playing under-10s matches to the over 70s who come for a few recreational games.

‘If we can get them more engaged in the sport, then maybe one day it’ll be them on Centre Court.’