Bendigo, 24 November 2010 |

Alicia Molik (SA) will continue her preparation for the Australian summer of tennis when she returns to defend her title at the USD $40,000 WM Loud Bendigo International, part of the Australian Pro Tour.

Held from Saturday 27 November to Sunday 5 December, the event will give local residents the opportunity to watch a host of Australia’s rising tennis stars and international players for free at the newly developed Bendigo Bank Tennis Centre.

Australia will be represented in the women’s draw by former world No. 8 Molik and current world No. 42 Jarmila Groth, as well as Commonwealth Games singles bronze medallist Sally Peers and Commonwealth Games doubles silver medallist Olivia Rogowska (both from Victoria).

The men’s draw will include rising Australian tennis stars James Lemke and Samuel Groth (both from Victoria).

Joining the Australians are international tennis stars from France, Russia, Japan and Canada, as well as former world No. 77 Danai Udomchoke of Thailand.

Tournament Director Mark Handley praised the City of Greater Bendigo and the Bendigo Tennis Association for their ongoing support of the event and Australian tennis.

“Residents of Bendigo and the Bendigo Tennis Association have been long-standing supporters of this tournament and instrumental in promoting the game of tennis,” Handley said.

“Since its redevelopment, Bendigo now has a sporting complex that not only provides amazing facilities for the players but also gives residents the opportunity to watch established international players alongside emerging national talent who could be in the mix at next year’s Australian Open.”

Australia’s No.2 ranked female tennis player, Groth, is expected to be the favourite for the women’s title, following her breakthrough season in 2010 with fourth-round appearances at the French Open and Wimbledon. Current world No.302 Sebastian Rieschick will also hope to continue his strong form after winning both the Cliffs Esperance Tennis International in Western Australia and the Configure Express Pro in New Zealand this month.

As well as offering the public the chance to see future stars of the game in their own backyard, the WM Loud Bendigo International will be a host destination during the nationwide Australian Open Trophy Tour.

The Australian Open Trophy Tour will give tennis fans the opportunity to have an up close look at the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup (Men’s trophy) and Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup (Women’s trophy).

The tour kicked off from Melbourne Park on Tuesday 5 October and will visit a host of destinations over the next few months, before finishing the journey at Melbourne Park on 17 January, day one of Australian Open 2011.