Tennis Tasmania is well on the way to making multi-million dollar improvements to the Launceston International.
As organisers reflect on hugely successful men’s and women’s tournaments, plans are progressing to develop a new $3.9 million Northern headquarters.
Tennis Tasmania chief executive Darren Sturgess hopes the facility will be in place at the Launceston Regional Tennis Centre in time for the 2021 tournament.
“It would be a great promotion for the sport to have,” he said.
“There would be about three months’ final planning then a 10-month build but our first priority is getting the money.”
Our first priority is getting the moneyTennis Tasmania chief executive Darren Sturgess
Relocating court 3 closer to the NTCA car park, the Launceston tennis community and events centre would provide additional viewing over centre court plus a pro shop, cafe and administration space.
With a state government commitment of $2 million and Sport Australia infrastructure grant of $500,000 in place, Tennis Australia has put in $300,000 plus another $200,000 already spent on feasibility projects.
Talks are continuing with Launceston council and the federal government to provide the shortfall.
“We are still seeking funding and have meetings coming up to get it started,” Sturgess said.
“There is a real need for this. It would become our Northern hub and enable Tennis Tasmania to have staff permanently based in this region.”
Following on from sister events in Hobart and Burnie, the Launceston International ITF women’s and ATP men’s tournaments continued the push to promote tennis in Tasmania around the Australian Open.
“This is a world-class quality of tennis being played in all three regions and we are reaping the benefit of having the Australian Open in our backyard,” Sturgess said.
“The movement of dates has been a real tick. It really kept more high level players. Every female player played at the Australian Open and 34 of the men.
“If they are in the country, it’s easy to travel to Burnie and Launceston. If there’s too much of a gap in time, players may leave but while the Australian Open is on, players are looking for matches and a short trip brings them to Tassie for back-to-back events before they move on.”
Sturgess said the state is also reaping the reward of the tournaments’ inspirational properties.
“A total of 18,500 Tasmanian kids tried tennis at school last year. That presents the challenge of how we can get them playing more regularly.
“We’ve got a good base to work from, now we need to transition that through to adult tennis.
“This is a great opportunity to inspire people to take up the sport and they can play from four through to 90 like (Riverside’s national age champion) Max Byrne, plus tennis is gender neutral.”
The Launceston International attracted players from 24 countries, with eventual winners hailing from South Africa and Kazakhstan.