Traralgon serves up $50k ATP Challenger event
The Australian Pro Tour has received a boost with the addition of the $50,000 Traralgon Tennis Challenger in October.
The annual Traralgon Pro Tour tennis event will become the Traralgon Tennis Challenger in October, with the tournament upgraded to ATP Challenger status carrying a lucrative US$50,000 prize purse.
The new-look men’s event will feature a 32-player draw competing for world rankings points and a share of US$50,000 in prize money, an increase of US$35,000 on last year’s prize pool.
Tennis Australia Tournaments Coordinator Jason Simmons said the addition of a fourth ATP Challenger event to the Australian Pro Tour calendar was a real boost to the series.
“This year we’ve doubled the number of ATP Challengers on the calendar from two to four, adding the Traralgon Tennis Challenger and the new ATP event at Melbourne Park to the series,” Simmons said.
“These tournaments will join the ATP Challenger events held at Burnie and West Lakes as premier stops on the Australian Pro Tour calendar.
“Tennis Australia works very closely with all Pro Tour venues to create the highest level tour possible, and we’re very pleased to confirm the new ATP status of the Traralgon event.”
The Traralgon Tennis Challenger, to be hosted at the Traralgon Tennis Association courts from 26 October to 3 November, will attract rising stars of the sport from across the globe to the town.
Queenslander Ben Mitchell, who took out back-to-back Traralgon Pro Tour events in 2011 and 2012, said the opportunity to contest another ATP Challenger event on home soil in the lead-up to the Australian summer was invaluable.
“It’s very important to the players to have these opportunities and Tennis Australia has done a great job in securing another ATP Challenger event here in Australia,” said the world No. 303.
“I’ve gained a lot of confidence from the Traralgon tournament over the years. It’s definitely a confidence booster for me and I hope to make another jump in the tournament this year so I can do well leading in to the Australian Open.
“I think there will be a lot more players from around the world competing this year so that will make it very interesting. I’m feeling really confident at the moment and hoping for a big end to the year, so hopefully the Traralgon Tennis Challenger will be another big tournament for me.”
Mitchell’s win at the Traralgon Pro Tour event last October launched a successful summer for the now 20-year-old, winning the Australian Open 2013 Play-off event at Melbourne Park in December and competing in his second Australian Open the following month.
Latrobe City Mayor Sandy Kam said the ATP Challenger event was a coup for Latrobe City.
“It is seen as an important opportunity to showcase the region’s international-standard facilities and to facilitate Council’s and the wider region’s ability to continue to attract such significant events,” she said.
“Events showcasing elite athletes provide the Latrobe City community with an opportunity to see world class sporting events in action, inspiring young athletes within rural communities and providing accessibility to events they might otherwise never have the opportunity to see.”
Member for Morwell Russell Northe MP congratulated Tennis Australia and the Traralgon Tennis Association for securing the ATP Challenger event.
“Over the last few years the Traralgon Tennis Association, in partnership with Tennis Australia, Latrobe City Council and the Victorian Government, has worked hard to attract and stage the big tennis tournaments in the Gippsland area,” he said.
“The Victorian Government has previously contributed $400,000 to the Traralgon Tennis Associations courts upgrade, $5000 to the Loy Yang Power Junior International and $5000 to the Latrobe City MSS Security International Pro Tour.
“These international events have a number of positive impacts on the region. There are the obvious impacts of the promotion of a healthy and active lifestyle and inspiring our youth towards excellence in achievement, but also the attraction of visitors to the area and the economic benefit to our local towns and businesses.”
The women’s ITF series will move to Bendigo in the week of the Traralgon Tennis Challenger, where the second of two successive $50,000 women’s events in the town will be contested.
For more from Ben Mitchell, check out Tennis Australia’s exclusive interview on You Tube.