Call for increase in status

THE success of the second Launceston International has prompted Tennis Tasmania to voice its desire to grow the event.

President Peter Armstrong said the state body had a vision of creating a tennis circuit sandwiching the Australian Open, beginning with the Moorilla in Hobart and concluding with back- to-back tournaments in Burnie and Launceston.

Asked if he would like to see the $25,000 ITF Launceston event played annually, Armstrong said: "Certainly that is the plan and we would want to increase the status of the event to become a $50,000 tournament.

"The infrastructure already in place is fantastic - the courts, lighting, central location. The next stage is to get a grandstand here and a partnership between Tennis Tasmania, Launceston City Council and Tennis Australia could take it to the next level."

The event at Launceston's Regional Tennis Centre ended on Sunday, after which winner Storm Sanders tweeted: "My first 25k title :) absolutely stoked! Thank you so much Launceston for an amazing week, definitely the friendliest place!"

Her comments were echoed throughout the field and Armstrong said it was "unthinkable" that such a venue should not host a major annual tournament.

"The players obviously like it, all they need is already here. It is very unusual to have such a great location. There are very few centres like this in Australia so close to a city," he said.

"It's something we want to build on. People should be able to see top-class players without having to travel to the mainland.

"It's great for Tasmania to see world-class sport in their backyard. It's inspiring for juniors and just gives a lift to the general community."

Armstrong praised the council investment in supporting both the venue and the tournament.

"The nature of protour events is very much dependent on local council support and Launceston City Council is to be applauded for its contribution to date in establishing what is here and we'd love to take it to the next step."

•Russian Ksenia Lykina may have lost Saturday's semi-final to Storm Sanders but left Launceston happy after victory in a cosmopolitan doubles final. Lykina teamed up with Brit Emily Webley-Smith to beat Alexandra Kiick, of the US, and Canadian Erin Routliffe 7-5, 6-3.

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