New Zealand to host lower-tier pro events for the first time in years
The upcoming summer of tennis in New Zealand should be a thrilling one, with the national championships, two weeks of the ASB Classic and the Fed Cup. Besides the regular events, the New Zealand tennis federation has managed to add more tournaments and opportunities for their younger players to make the first professional steps and make the best possible start of the year.
New Zealand Championships will take place between December 19-22, followed by Te Anau men's ITF tournament that will mark the beginning of the professional season worldwide in the first week of January! Outside the ASB Classic, Te Anau is the first men's professional event in New Zealand since Wellington Futures in 2010, serving as an excellent opportunity for the local players to show their skills and chase ATP points.
The ASB Classic should bring the world's leading players between January 6-18, backed by the Fed Cup in Wellington in the first week of February and women's ITF tournament in Hamilton, the first of that kind in seven years.
"It's essential to have aspirational targets domestically for the athletes to shoot for," Tennis NZ high-performance director Simon Rea said. "Our elite juniors have had to travel abroad to get their first taste of professional tennis, except some wildcards at the ASB Classic, which have been greatly appreciated.
For us to be serious about implementing a pathway that can cater 11 and 12 year olds at a competitive level, all the way through to our professional level athletes, this was a step that had to happen. Hopefully, this is just the start, we'd like to build further depth in these events, but we'll rely on the support of communities like Te Anau and Hamilton, to be able to make that happen.
It's a critical step but we want it to be a sustainable one and we'd like to continue to build the number of events in New Zealand so that our players can gain traction, experience and ranking points without having to travel abroad."
"We strongly indicated that was something we were keen to see happen," Tennis NZ CEO Julie Paterson said. "So we put a big paper to the board in August around investment opportunities and the Pro Tour events were something that the board did see as a valuable addition to the performance program.
It's awesome to be able to restart the Pro Tour events, the tennis community have been pretty strong in their views that this is something that has been missing for a long time, but the reality was that at the time they were stopped, Tennis NZ didn't have the money to invest in them and they cost a lot of money to run. So eight years later, to be able to restart them and especially utilizing our regional facilities is cool."