Traralgon VIC 3844, Australia, 22 October 2014 | Tennis Australia

Two bumper fields will contest this year’s back-to-back Latrobe City Traralgon ATP Challenger events starting this weekend.

In week one six players ranked inside the world’s top 200 will vie for a share of $50,000 in prize money and valuable world ranking points: [112] Go Soeda (JPN), [122] Bradley Klahn (USA), [123] Matthew Ebden (WA), [154] Hiroki Moriya (JPN), [158] Thanasi Kokkinakis (SA) and [173] Luke Saville (SA).

In week two that number will swell to seven, with world No.111 James Ward (GBR) set to join the line-up.

A strong contingent of emerging Aussie stars – including 12 of the nation’s top 20 players – will join Ebden, Kokkinakis and Saville; [212] Alex Bolt (SA), [228] Matt Reid (NSW), [232] John-Patrick Smith (Qld), [264] Ben Mitchell (Qld) and [270] Jordan Thompson (NSW) for both tournaments, and the in-form [287] John Millman (Qld) and [919] Greg Jones (NSW) confirmed for the second event.

Two-time Traralgon champion Ben Mitchell, who took out the event in 2011 and again in 2012, and reigning runner-up Bradley Klahn will start two of the hot favourites for this year’s titles.

Tennis Australia Pro Tour Manager Fiona Luscombe said the Traralgon leg of the series was a highlight for players and fans.

“The players really look forward to coming to Traralgon each year, the local community gets right behind the event and it’s a fantastic preparation for the players leading into the Australian summer,” she said.

“We’re thrilled with the strength of the fields we have assembled for both tournaments and excited to welcome some of the best Australian and international rising stars to the region. It should be a great two weeks of tennis and I encourage all fans to come along and experience world class tennis in their own backyard.”

Latrobe City Council Mayor Sharon Gibson said the region was fast gaining a reputation for hosting elite events.

“This event, run in partnership with the Traralgon Tennis Association, is testament to that reputation. With the recent announcement of funding for a new show court, the Traralgon Tennis Centre will boast an even greater capacity to host events like these,” Cr Gibson said.

“We have already had a number of high-calibre tennis stars compete at events in Traralgon over the past few years and this event can only build on that success.

“I would like to extend a warm welcome to the players, coaches and officials to our city and hope they enjoy our legendary hospitality during their stay here.”

Qualifying for Latrobe City Traralgon ATP Challenger #1 gets under way on Saturday 25 October, with main draw action to kick off on Monday 27 October. The final will be held on Sunday 2 November.

Latrobe City Traralgon ATP Challenger #2 qualifying will commence on Saturday 1 November, with main draw action set to get under way from Monday 3 November. The final will be held on Sunday 9 November.

The women’s ITF series will travel to Margaret River (WA) and Bendigo (Vic) while the men compete in Traralgon.