Beijing, China, 18 May 2012 | Tennis Australia

The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) will be launching its inaugural Challenger Series in October 2012, kicking off with an event in Taipei, Taiwan.

The event presents a wonderful opportunity for Australian players – thanks to the close proximity of the tournament – as well as other players in the region the chance to gain valuable match practice, prizemoney and ranking points ahead of the Australian Open in January, the Grand Slam of Asia/Pacific.

The tournament, and others in the series, will offer $125,000 in prizemoney and offer 160 WTA ranking points to the winner, sitting them one level above the top tier of International Tennis Federation events which offer $100,000 in prizemoney and 150 ranking points.

WTA Asia-Pacific managing director Peter Johnston said the Challenger Series would allow several emerging markets, currently not able to host a WTA Premier or International tournament, to showcase a women’s tennis event.

“We are delighted that the first WTA Challenger event will be hosted in Taipei, fueling the growth of the sport in the Asia/Pacific territory even further,” he said.

“There is a growing appetite for women’s tennis throughout the region and we couldn’t have asked for a better city and venue to be hosting our first Challenger event with a great stadium, a fantastic promoter and the enthusiastic fans of women’s tennis in Chinese Taipei.”

WTA Challenger Series events are primarily targeted at players ranked outside the world top 50, whose seasons conclude sooner than the elite players and who are looking for extra avenues for accumulating match practice and ranking points.

The Taipei event, to be known as the OEC Taipei WTA Ladies Open, will be held on 27 October-4 November 2012 at the 15,000 seat Taipei Arena.