World-class tournaments at both ends of state

TOP-CLASS tennis is heading to both ends of Tasmania next week.

As the Burnie International reaches its business end, Launceston will also host an ITF event before Hobart plays host to the Fed Cup tie between Australia and Russia next weekend.

The Regional Tennis Centre in Racecourse Crescent is staging the Launceston International with a prize pool of US$50,000.

Singles qualifying begins today and concludes tomorrow with the main draw for singles and doubles running from Monday to Saturday.

Meanwhile, at the Domain Tennis Centre in Hobart next Saturday and Sunday, Russia's new Fed Cup captain, former world No.2 Anastasia Myskina, has named the team to face Aussies Samantha Stosur, Casey Dellacqua, Ashleigh Barty and Storm Sanders.

Of the four Russian players, only 18-year-old Irina Khromacheva has competed in the world team event before, stepping into the second singles spot when Russia lost to Italy in the 2013 final in November.

She will be joined by Victoria Kan, Valeria Solovyeva and Veronika Kudermetova.

``It's easy to look at the rankings alone and think that because we have the higher-ranked players we should be firm favourites to win,'' Australian Fed Cup captain Alicia Molik said.

``We have a strong team and I certainly expect the girls to do well. But in Fed Cup you can never look at rankings alone.

``Sometimes it's harder to play players who are unknown and you can't ever afford to underestimate the opposition. 

``You have to go out there expecting top performances, and in my experience I think Fed Cup and Davis Cup always brings out the best in players, and can be the springboard to take players to the next level.

``We won't be taking the Russian team lightly.

``I have no doubts that they are all good players, can compete under pressure and will flourish being part of the team.

``They have a new captain in Anastasia who I always enjoyed playing against on the tour, and she'll bring a fresh perspective.''

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