Hosting the world’s rising star players has made Liverpool the home of International Junior Tennis
4 weeks ago
Over the next two weeks, Liverpool and Wirral tennis centres – in Wavertree and Bidston – will host some of the world’s top tennis rising stars.
The organiser of Liverpool International Tennis Tournament says the city can proudly claim yet another sporting title – as the home of international junior tennis.
They’ll be following in the footsteps of former British women’s number one Emma Raducanu who won here nine years ago when she was just 12 years old.
Anders Borg is the man who put Liverpool on the tennis map when he launched the Liverpool International Tennis Tournament 22 years ago, attracting past and future champions.
He says we are recognised as the UK’s leading place for young players to compete, and that’s not just good for local talent, it’s great for the city’s economy too.
““Who would have thought that some years ago, in a sport that is normally thought of as slightly elitist and mostly played down south?
“But that’s absolutely how we’re seen now which we’re very proud of, and what we’re doing has great value for Liverpool,” he explains.
“We have around 400 to 500 players who come to play, they stay in hotels – the official ones are Melia and Hilton – and obviously they use local cab companies, they go to local restaurants and they spend a lot of money here.
“We have players coming in from 50 different countries to compete for international ranking points and it’s also great for the local players because they are awarded wild card entries into the events. That means they get to play against some of the very best players from across Europe and as far as Japan, Australia and America, so it’s a win-win for everyone.”
The Lexus Liverpool International Junior Tournament, which runs until February 16, includes the Tennis Europe under-14 event and two International Tennis Federation under-18 events.
Anders says most, if not all, of the big names who battle it out for Grand Slam titles and major tour wins started their careers on this international junior circuit.
“They will have come up through the junior circuit so it really is where the best players grow their talent,” he adds.
“They play the junior tournaments when they’re 15 or 16, and the very best ones jump straight into the senior circuit, while most of the players play out their junior career at junior level.
“If they’re really good they’re offered a wild card into ATP and WTA events and then if they win some matches and get some points, they’re automatically qualified to play these events at the highest level so that’s how they progress through.
“Emma Raducanu, for example, came through the junior tennis circuit, she won the equivalent event in Liverpool in 2015. She was only 12 at the time and she entered an under 18 event so clearly she was very talented even then.”
Liverpool has hosted international junior tennis since 2013 and Anders says it helps to connect with young people in the local community.
“We introduce thousands of kids to tennis each year and for us it’s a matter of giving local kids a chance to play and getting as many on court as possible to tackle three issues – obesity, mental health and crime.”
This year’s Liverpool International Tennis Tournament will return to Liverpool Cricket Club from June 13-15, and tickets are already on sale.
Anders will be keeping a look out for outstanding local players over the next weeks to take part in summer matches.
“We’ll see how the young players do and then we’ll pick some of the ones who we feel are most talented because we like to use the summer event to feature local players too.”