There were kids playing tennis in the lobby of the Radisson SAS Hotel this morning. Not something you see every day but no need to call in the police or social services, it was all part of the marketing for the Liverpool International Tennis Tournament which takes place in Calderstones Park on 13th to 18th June 2006.
This is the 5th year of the tournament and a few more big names are competing.
The big name today though was Alan Mills the former Wimbledon referee (known as the ‘rain man’) who will be the official referee for the Liverpool games.
I also managed a few words with Phil Thompson the former Liverpool footballer and assistant manager who is now a tennis ambassador for Liverpool, that made my day!
Tickets are selling fast, here’s some of the press release…
Alan Mills – the last word on rain, light, pigeons and crowd noise at Wimbledon for 23 years – is set to run his eyes over the fast growing tennis tournament as Official Referee.
Tournament organisers Northern Vision have also announced today (Tuesday, March 7) that Goran Ivanisevic, who came out of retirement to help Croatia win the 2005 Davis Cup against Slovakia, will headline the 2006 tournament at Calderstones Park.
Ivanisevic, a four-time Wimbledon finalist and 2001 Champion, is not the only famous face from SW19 in Liverpool this June.
Pat Cash, ’87 Wimbledon champ and a crowd favourite last year, is set to return to compete in the Legends singles event against Ivanisevic and local hero Barry Cowan.
Due to the increasing popularity of the tournament following Martina Navratilova’s 2005 appearance, organisers Northern Vision will also incorporate a Ladies event this year.
The addition means the Liverpool International is now the first tennis tournament in the UK with both an ATP and WTA tournament, alongside a Legends singles and doubles event as well as exhibition matches.
America’s Ashley Harkleroad will lead the way in the women’s event, Xavier Malisse of Belgium and American’s Vince Spadea, Robert Kendrick and Bobby Reynolds are the first of the ATP players to be announced.
Crowd entertainers Mansour Bahrami, Ilie Nastase, Henri Leconte and Pete McNamara will return for the 6 day event to show off their well polished ball skills!
Due to an outstanding 2005 the tournament has now been extended to 6 days, taking place between the 13th – 18th June 2006.
As well as the increase in days the Centre Court stadium has been increased in capacity to 3,000 to cope with demand – and tickets sales are already 30% up on this time last year.
Tournament Director, Anders Borg comments: “We are delighted to have Alan Mills on board – his experience will be invaluable to the tournament’s development.
”We are now the largest exhibition event in Europe and are delighted to host an event that brings world class ATP and WTA players and the very best tennis Legends to a public park in Liverpool”.
The event is held annually at Calderstones Park by Northern Vision in conjunction with Liverpool City Council and the Liverpool Culture Company.
Now in its fifth year, the Liverpool International has received a record £160,000 from the City Council and Culture Company as part of a sports strategy to celebrate the Capital of Culture themed year – Liverpool Performs
The 2006 Liverpool International Tennis Tournament runs from 13th – 18th June.
For further information about the event and ticket enquiries, telephone 0151 227 5940 or visit www.liverpooltennis.co.uk.