The best regional tennis centre in Australia should be even better for the next Launceston International.
The six-year-old, 11-court Racecourse Crescent venue celebrated record crowds at last week’s $75,000 ATP men’s and $60,000 ITF women’s tournaments, featuring 30 nationalities including many still fresh from the Australian Open while others clearly destined for future editions.
And Tennis Tasmania president Phil Bowden said “the last piece of the puzzle” should be in place by 2018.
Plans are afoot to build a clubhouse at the venue and relocate court three, opening up the potential to host even bigger tournaments.
Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley and ambassador Todd Woodbridge have told The Examiner that the venue was a realistic prospect to host Davis or Fed Cup ties.
Even Lleyton Hewitt’s Tasmanian manager David Drysdale, revisiting his old stamping ground last week, said a clubhouse would complete an impressive picture.
“The clubhouse will be the last piece of the puzzle,” Bowden said. “At the moment members don’t have anywhere to congregate, they are operating out of a container and that is totally unacceptable.
“We would like to have it built in time for the next tournament.”
Like other Launceston tennis fans, Bowden watched the long-running and often infuriating process that eventually saw a few courts and a derelict bowls club transformed into the $2.4 million venue that hosted last week’s tournaments.
Opened in 2011 by Grand Slam winner Sam Stosur, the centre was funded with $1.4 million from the state government, $500,000 from the federal government, $400,000 from Launceston City Council and $110,000 from Tennis Australia's national court rebate scheme.
“This is the best regional tennis centre in Australia, I’ve had Tennis Australia board members tell me that, and we are very proud of that,” Bowden said.
“It was always a great vision of Denis Tucker. It took a while to get funding and infrastructure but now it is done it can attract this international tournament which has grown every year. We are here due to the generosity of Launceston City Council, state and federal government and Tennis Australia.”
Bowden said the annual Launceston International tournaments are “locked in for the foreseeable future” and that Tennis Tasmania is proud to spread its product around the state’s three regions.
“Burnie has just spent $1.5 million on its venue and it’s all about being able to have an international tournament in each region to service the tennis public,” he said.