Wollongong NSW, Australia, 6 November 2014 | Tennis Australia

A strong Australian contingent will take to the courts in the first Wollongong Tennis International at the City of Wollongong Tennis Centre from 11-16 November 2014.

World No.231 Di Wu (CHI) and No.253 Brydan Klein (GBR) will take the top two seeds, with Gold Coast 21-year-old Ben Mitchell (QLD) the highest ranked Australian in the draw with the third seed.

The direct acceptance list of 18 features no less than 10 Australian players, with plenty more looking to add their names to the main draw through qualifying.

The event ties in with the 100th Anniversary of Tennis Wollongong and is the first time since 2006 the Association has hosted a Futures event. A second event from 18-23 November will cap two weeks of celebrations for the Association.

Local tennis fans will have the opportunity to attend the free event and watch a crop of up-and-coming tennis stars from around Australia and the world compete for $15,000 in prize money and valuable world ranking points.

Twenty-three-year-old Wu will face strong competition from the likes of Klein, Mitchell (No.266) and American Jarmere Jenkins (No.291), with all four ranked within the world’s top 300.

Wu has won two Futures titles in 2014, both in Asia, while Klein has already won a Futures title in Australia this year in Alice Springs.

Mitchell, a Junior Wimbledon finalist in 2010, is coming off a Futures title and semifinal appearance in Canada in July as well as a semifinal in the Granby Challenger and a US Open qualifying draw appearance.

Jenkins will also be tough to beat, after winning the Cairns International in early October with a three-set win over Australian teenager Omar Jasika. It was the second Futures title in Australia this year for Jenkins, who also won the Happy Valley event in February.

Tournament Director Michelle Bowrey said the back-to-back tournaments provided tennis fans in the Illawarra with a chance to see top quality professional tennis.

“It’s fantastic to see a strong field for the Wollongong Tennis International and especially to see so many Australians in the main draw. It’s a very evenly matched field and promises to be a highly competitive tournament.”

Bowrey also praised Destination Wollongong, Tennis Wollongong Association and the City of Wollongong Tennis Club for their support and encouraged the local community to get behind the event.

“The Pro Tour hasn’t been to Wollongong for eight years so it’s great that we can bring it back and give people the opportunity to attend this free community event and enjoy top level tennis without having to travel to Sydney.”

Destination Wollongong General Manager Mark Sleigh said the event was a great opportunity to showcase Wollongong as a sporting destination.

“We are delighted to be welcoming international tennis back to Wollongong,” Sleigh said.

“I have a strong recollection of watching Pat Rafter, Lleyton Hewitt, Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde playing similar events in Wollongong as they made their way through the ranks and the chance for our juniors to come out and see this level of tennis locally is extremely important to their development.

“We congratulate Tennis NSW and Tennis Wollongong on bringing this exciting event back, and we look forward to a fantastic two weeks of tennis!”

Qualifying will begin on Saturday 8 November and the main draw on Tuesday 11 November.