Stockport’s Liam and Naomi Broady will be hoping for success on home soil next week as the LTA stages a new men’s and women’s World Tennis Tour event in the North West.
The Broadys are part of a strong British contingent taking on players from around the world on the indoor courts at the USN Bolton Arena, with the likes of Laura Robson, Harriet Dart and up-and-coming Jack Draper also competing from 1-7 April.
Both the men’s and the women’s events have a total prize money pot of $25,000, and are a part of the new ITF World Tennis Tour. The Bolton indoor event is part of an expanded international calendar of tournaments being staged by the LTA in Britain this year, providing a showcase for tennis outside of the traditional summer grass court season and opening up the sport to more fans around the country. The move also aligns with the LTA’s new long-term Performance Strategy with the aim being to provide more opportunities for British players to compete, earn ranking points and win prize money in this country.
British Davis Cup player Liam Broady will be among the favourites to take the Bolton men’s title, with the 25-year-old going into the tournament as the highest ranked player at 296 in the world.
Speaking ahead of the tournament, GB No.8 Broady said: “I’m really excited to be playing the new LTA tournament in Bolton. I’m thrilled to be playing a tournament on my doorstep and it would be great to have some local friends and fans come down and support myself and the other Brits over the course of the week. We’re keen to open up our sport to new fans throughout the year and this new tournament provides an opportunity to do just that.”
There will also be huge interest around 17-year-old Draper. The left-hander from Surrey sprung to prominence at Wimbledon last year in reaching the Boy’s Singles Final. Since then, Draper has been solely competing on the men’s professional circuit, and last year became the first 16 year old to break into the world’s top 1,000.
The entry list for the women’s event is particularly strong, with five current top 200 players including Great Britain’s Harriet Dart. Fresh from her involvement in Great Britain’s successful Fed Cup team back in February, the 22 year old reached a new career-high of 121 in the world earlier this year and will be looking to climb the rankings once again next week as she takes to the court.
Dart is joined in the draw by former British No.1 Laura Robson, who is competing in Bolton as part of her road to recovery from injury and will certainly be looking to use the event as a springboard to move back up the rankings. North West hopes in the women’s event lie with GB No.6 Naomi Broady and Cheshire’s Samantha Murray.
The USN Bolton Arena has successfully staged an annual international professional wheelchair tennis event in recent years, and also regularly hosts junior competitions – Jack Draper competed there in 2015 at a 14&U Tennis Europe event. However, next week will be the first time the venue’s world-class facilities have staged a professional men’s or women’s tournament since 2004, when a 17-year-old Andy Murray competed and future Grand Slam finalist Marcos Baghdatis won the title.
Richard Joyner, the LTA’s Tournament Director for the event, commented:“We are delighted to be bringing international tennis to Bolton as part of our work to open up tennis to more people. While Wimbledon naturally always gets a lot of attention, tennis is played all year round and staging a new tournament such as this, is a great way of showcasing that. With free entry throughout the week we’d encourage any local sports fans to come and take the opportunity to back the Brits and witness some great tennis on their doorstep. We have a really strong line-up in both the women’s and the men’s fields and it’s a great opportunity to see some future stars in the making!”
Qualifying is scheduled for Monday 1 April, with main draw starting on Tuesday 2 April. Both singles finals are scheduled for Sunday 7 April, with the doubles finals scheduled for Saturday.Entry for spectators is free of charge throughout the week. Play will commence from 10am – 7pm from Tuesday 2nd April onwards. Live scoring will be available on the LTA website at www.lta.org.uk/gbps and the tournament will be live streamed from 1st April on http://live.itftennis.com/en/live-streams/