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Grand plans to net tennis stars on table

Olivia RogowskaTHE challenge has been set for Tasmania to capitalise on a bumper programme of tennis tournaments established around the Australian Open.

With Launceston securing an additional $50,000 men’s tournament to complement its existing women’s event in February, the state has five major tournaments sandwiching the grand slam event.

The objective is to make the state a desirable destination for international players just an hour’s flight away from their annual commitment at Melbourne Park.

With a $250,000 prize pool, the Hobart International has long established itself as an ideal lead-in tournament for women in the week before the Open, but Burnie and Launceston are now working together to provide a potentially lucrative option immediately afterwards.

Male and female players ranked between 100 and 300 in the world are being targeted, and such Australian Pro Tour tournaments have proved a popular breeding ground in recent years for the likes of Bernard Tomic and Nick Kyrgios who have since gone on to make their mark at grand slams.

Tennis Tasmania chief executive Mark Handley said it represented a massive opportunity for the state.

‘‘We want to build around the Australian Open and are fortunate that we have the facilities to be able to do that,’’ he said.

‘‘I don’t think there are many other states that could do this within four hours of each other.

‘‘Now that we’ve got the men as well, we’ve got this serious sporting asset for Launceston that we want to grow.

‘‘For Burnie and Launceston, we’ve got the asset of having men and women events, it’s now up to us to ensure we maintain the quality of facilities and provide a reputation that keep us at the top of players’ minds around the Australian Open.

‘‘We need to keep asking how we can improve the player experience to keep them coming back.’’

The $2.4 million Launceston Regional Tennis Centre opened in 2011 and swiftly landed the $25,000 ITF women’s international tournament.

This year that was upgraded to a $50,000 tournament, and last month, it was announced that 2015 would see the addition of a men’s $50,000 ATP event.

Earlier this year, a grandstand was added to the show court of the Racecourse Crescent venue.

Launceston Mayor Albert van Zetten said: ‘‘With both the men’s and women’s events locked in, it promises to be a fantastic summer of tennis in Launceston.’’

Olivia Rogowska enjoyed a perfect visit to Launceston in February, claiming both the singles and doubles championships.

A capacity crowd saw the world number 137 beat France’s Irena Pavlovic in the singles before the Victorian teamed up with Monique Adamczak to claim the doubles.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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