Bath is set for a fortnight of world class tennis as the AEGON GB Pro-Series rolls into town.
The men’s $15,000 and women’s $10,000 tournament, which is offering free entry to spectators at the University of Bath Sports Training Village, kicks off the first week in style and features strong British interest in both competitions.
The following week will see a step up in the level of competition, with some of the top 100 players competing in the men’s ATP Challenger event, with a Women’s $25,000 event running alongside.
Former British number two Alex Bogdanovic will spearhead the attack this week while Emily Webley-Smith, currently ranked 270 in the world, is ranked second in the women’s draw.
Bogdanovic will face stiff competition from the tournament’s top ranked player, Belgium’s Yannick Mertens (208), Germany’s Peter Torebko (230), as well as Finland’s Timo Nieminen (312) and Michael Ryderstedt of Sweden (328).
Further home grown talent will be on show in the shape of David Rice, Richard Bloomfield, Sean Thornley and Lewis Burton.
Slovakia’s Lenka Jurikova will pose the toughest challenge for Webley-Smith and is hotly tipped to take the title; Ana Vrljic from Croatia is also one to watch.
Webley-Smith will be hoping her British compatriots Samantha Murray (368), Jade Windlet (536), Francesca Stephenson (543) and Lucy Brown (571) can join her in reaching the tournament summit.
Tournament Director Richard Joyner said: “We are delighted to be returning to the University of Bath for two weeks of high quality international tennis. Week 1 kicks off with a Men’s $15k and Women’s $10k pro circuit events, a stage which has seen the majority of today’s top stars launch their professional careers.
“The strength of both line up’s in week 1 reflects the fact there is a Men’s ATP Challenger, and Women’s $25k event the following week. Top ranked player in the men’s is Belgian Yannick Mertens, a semi-finalist in Bath last year, and recent winner of the AEGON GB Pro-Series Wirral. Yannick is joined by Germany’s Peter Torebko, ranked 230, and 2011 Bath winner Micheal Ryderstedt from Sweden.
“Alex Bogdanovic, Richard Bloomfield, Sean Thornley, and Lewis Burton lead the British challenge, whilst recent Australian Open junior doubles champion, and Wimbledon 2011 junior singles runner-up Liam Broady is also in the Bath line up.
“The women’s field includes 4 top 300 players, which is strong for a Women’s $10k event. The line up includes Italian Giulla Gatto-Monticone, who reached last years final but was unfortunately unable to play the final due to illness, and British number 6 Emily Webley-Smith.
“What is great about coming to Bath is the number of Team Bath players who get to compete on the international stage at their own training base. This year sees Team Bath player’s Sam Murray, Lisa Whybourn, Alex Walker, Toby Martin, and Richard Gabb, who all have a world ranking, in action in week 1.”
The main draw of the tournament kicks off Monday 12 March with the final on Saturday 17.
The ATP Challenger event will commence on Saturday 17 March and climaxes on Sunday 25.
For more information please visit: http://www.teambath.com/sport/tennis/aegon-gb-pro-series/
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The University of Bath is The Sunday Times University of the Year 2011/12.