Lawn Tennis Association figures show that prize money for Island tournaments this year will be $80,000 – putting it firmly on the British map and a target for players from all over the world.
Wimbledon tops the list with the Stella Artois tournament at Queens Club second followed by Nottingham, Birmingham and Eastbourne and then Jersey and Surbiton.
This year four events are being staged at the Les Ormes centre in St Brelade with the Jersey Tourism leg of the LTA $50,000 men’s satellite event and the $25,000 Caversham Ladies tournament next week and another two in the autumn.
The first week-long tournament starts this Sunday and has attracted 150 players plus 100 coaches and supporters with 42 LTA officials making the journey.
The men’s event is the first of a four-tournament competition with the rest in the UK and any player who wins them all will collect $50,000.
Said CILTA development officer Hugh Raymond: ‘Interest has been extraordinary.
We’ve had phone calls from around the world.
Most of the younger group of British players have entered, hoping to follow in the footsteps of Andrew Murray.
‘The standard of the ladies draw is also impressive and if the last four events we’ve held here are anything to go by you can expect the winner to climb up the rankings and get an automatic entry into the main draw of the Grand Slams.
Three of the last four winners in Jersey had automatic entry to the main draw of the Australian Open recently and two reached the third round.’ That the tournament can be held so soon after the last event in October is down to Jersey Tourism who have stepped in alongside existing main sponsor Caversham with a grant of £3,000.
Added Raymond: ‘These are exciting times for tennis in the islands and events like these help our players as well as raising funds to get them off the islands to compete in the UK more often.
‘Hopefully success over the next week may allow me to negotiate with the LTA to hold even bigger events with bigger stars.’ n The LTA tournaments will not impact upon the Ogier and Le Masurier Academy of Tennis sessions that began last Sunday afternoon.
They will continue as scheduled this week.