Southsea ‘will be set’ to stage top pro-tennis contest

An aerial view of the newly-renovated grass courts at Canoe Lake, Southsea
An aerial view of the newly-renovated grass courts at Canoe Lake, Southsea
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PREPARATIONS for a major pro-tennis tournament in Southsea featuring some of the globe’s top players are ‘well on track’.

The ITF Pro Circuit women’s tournament is to be held at Canoe Lake from June 27-30.

Tipped as a key warm-up for competitors tackling this year’s Wimbledon, the action will feature a prize haul of $100,000 (£78,400).

So far dozens of top-named players have signed up to the compete in the Aegon Southsea Trophy – which is free for the public to attend.

Top names revealed in the line-up include former world number nine, and Roland Garros semifinalist, Andrea Petkovic from Germany.

John Cooke, director of Canoe Lake Leisure, was excited by the inaugural tournament at the city.

He said: ‘The preparations are going very well. The pavilion is almost completed.

‘It’s going to be a tight schedule and of course we’re nervous but it’s going to be okay.’

He added: ‘It’s amazing. Players who have been in the top 10 in the world are coming down to play in a public park at Canoe Lake in Southsea.’

Canoe Lake has been part of a major overhaul project over the past three years. The project was set up initially to safeguard the future of 12 natural grass courts which have been open to the public for more than 100 years.

As part of the upgrade, the site has added a new pavilion which will be opened for the first time during the tournament.

Among those taking part in the action include 16 female players in the top 100, with the highest ranked being Romanian star Irina-Camelia Begu at 46th.

Also in the draw are Oceane Dodin from France and Britain’s Heather Watson.

Mr Cooke added: ‘This has blown all of our expectations.’

Julie Piper, Aegon Southsea Tournament director, said it was a great opprtunity for residents to come and see top players.

She said: ‘We have a top-quality field of some of the world’s best players and it’s a great opportunity for local people to come down for free and see the stars of tennis before they head to Wimbledon.’