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New look grass court season for 2017

The extra week that was placed in the grass court calendar in 2015 between Roland Garros and Wimbledon has been followed this year by the announcement of more prize money and bigger events for 2017 and beyond.

In 2015 the three week gap between Roland Garros and The Championships saw total prize money across pre Wimbledon grass court tournaments increase from $4.1 to $6.6 million compared to the previous year. The Aegon Championships at Queen’s Club was upgraded to an ATP 500 event, Nottingham hosted the first ever Aegon Open WTA International and ATP World Tour 250 tournaments and four new challenger and ITF Pro Circuit events were staged at Eastbourne, Manchester, Surbiton and Ilkley. The WTA International event in Birmingham had been upgraded the previous year to a Premier level event.

More enhancements are set to follow in 2017, the most significant of which are the move of the ATP Aegon Open Nottingham event back to Eastbourne, and its merger with the WTA Premier Aegon International event to form a combined event with a 28 player main draw men’s event and a 48 player main draw for the women, staged across nine days.

Next year will also see a combined event in Nottingham, with a $250k WTA event and a $100k ATP Challenger event and the Aegon Trophy Series prize money will be doubled from $300k to over $600k. The enhancements were the result of the collaboration between the ATP, WTA LTA and the All England Club, as well as the tournament organisers and venues.

Richard Lewis, Chief Executive of the All England Club said: “Substantial investment has gone into improving the standard of the facilities at the venues, including the preparation of the grass courts. The increase in marquee names and higher ranked players is not only proof of their appetite to play on grass, but also an endorsement of the quality of the grass playing surfaces which await them.”

The UK grasscourt season lasts only six weeks, but the effect that such a season can have on the perception of the sport is already being felt around the UK.

The Aegon Trophy Series event held in Manchester for the last two years has become an important part of the city’s sporting calendar and without a single rain delay, in what has been a damp season so far, 2016 was a standout event.

“Sport is a hugely important part of Manchester’s identity as a city, which is why we build upon our strong support for grassroots facilities by hosting major events such as the Aegon Manchester Trophy,” said Manchester City Council’s Executive Member for Culture and Leisure, Councillor Luthfur Rahman.

“We’ve already seen how successful the ATP Challenger series has been in the last two years and the addition of a women’s event in 2017 will mark another step forward for the tournament, providing a fantastic showcase for tennis, for women’s sport and for the city.”

Dustin Brown won the event, defeating Yen-Hsun Lu in the final and the Indian pair of Purav Raja and Divij Sharan won the doubles. The following week Lu went one better and won the Aegon Surbiton Trophy, beating Romanian Marius Copil in the final, albeit under cover as rain forced the conclusion of the final indoors.

“We are proud to have delivered a bigger and better tournament for our players, fans and sponsors this year,” said Surbiton Tournament Director George Donnelly.

Michael Downey, LTA CEO said of the plans for 2017: “This is all about delivering a bigger and better set of grass court tournaments for the players and our fans. It represents another major step in the evolution of the British grass court circuit.”

The tennis industry will hope that this investment has a positive impact on sales.

2017 Grasscourt Season

June 5-11 (Week 1)
Aegon Surbiton Trophy, Surbiton Racket & Fitness Club
Combined ITF Women’s Pro Circuit & ATP Challenger events

June 12-18 (Week 2)
Aegon Open Nottingham & Aegon Nottingham Trophy, Nottingham Tennis Centre
Combined WTA International and ATP Challenger events

Aegon Manchester Trophy, Northern Lawn Tennis Club
Manchester ITF Women’s Pro Circuit

June 19-25 (Week 3)
Aegon Championships, The Queen’s Club, London
ATP World Tour 500

Aegon Classic, Edgbaston Priory Club, Birmingham
WTA Premier

Aegon Ilkley Trophy, Ilkley Lawn Tennis & Squash Club
Combined ITF Women’s Pro Circuit & ATP Challenger events

June 26 – July 1 (Week 4)
Aegon International, Devonshire Park, Eastbourne
Combined WTA Premier & ATP World Tour 250

Wimbledon Qualifying, Bank of England Sports Club, Roehampton, London

July 3-16 (Week 5 & 6)
The Championships, Wimbledon