City within an ace of top tennis

LAUNCESTON Regional Tennis Centre’s new grandstand has given the city every opportunity to host a Davis Cup or Fed Cup tie, say the presidents of the sport’s national and state governing bodies.

The centre, which Tennis Australia president Stephen Healy described as ‘‘absolutely outstanding’’, yesterday officially opened its new 315-seat grandstand, which was completed in January.

With the addition of temporary seating, Healy said Launceston was more than capable of hosting either the men’s or women’s teams event.

‘‘Our key is to have great facilities in regional areas, as that’s what drives the sport, and this one is absolutely first class,’’ he said.

‘‘When you have events, you have to have good facilities for the players and good facilities for the fans and spectators and this gives them a first class viewing platform.

‘‘It does set Launceston up to apply for other events, and there is no reason why Launceston couldn’t host a Fed Cup or Davis Cup tie with some more seating in place.’’

Fed Cup ties have previously been held successfully at Hobart’s Domain Tennis Centre, most recently in February against Russia, and Mr Healy said Launceston was ‘‘equally capable’’ of doing the same.

‘‘It all depends on who you are playing and what surface the guys or girls want to play on and what the team captain has in mind, but we like to move them (the ties) around and promote the game away from the major cities.’’

Healy’s comments come on the back of praise for the centre from former Davis Cup captain John Fitzgerald, who in April told The Examiner the facility had the potential to host these matches, but any decision would have to be made on economical grounds rather than the quality of the facility.

Tennis Tasmania president Philip Bowden described yesterday as being a ‘‘wonderful completion’’ for the centre and believed the Davis and Fed Cup hopes were legitimate.

‘‘Tennis Australia do tend to pick the regional centres for those ties, so it is very realistic,’’ he said.

‘‘We’ve now got the pillars for attracting more wonderful events in this state, with the facilities here, as well as at the Domain in Hobart and the Burnie Tennis Centre.’’

The centre’s next big engagement is the Launceston International on February 7-15, the women’s tournament which is part of the Australian Pro-Tour.


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