Mornington VIC 3931, Australia, 18 March 2015 | Tennis Australia

A bumper field will contest next week’s Mornington Peninsula Women’s Tennis International, with at least eight of Australia’s top rising stars set to compete at the inaugural clay court event.

The elite field will be led by a strong local contingent including Fed Cup squad member Storm Sanders (WA), Australia’s No.2 ranked junior Kimberly Birrell (Qld), Alison Bai (ACT), Tammi Patterson (Vic), Abbie Myers (NSW), Ashling Sumner (Qld), Karolina Wlodarczak (Vic) and Karis Ryan (WA).

The highest ranked player in the field, world No.214 Laura Pous-Tio (ESP), will headline the list of international contenders alongside [339] Sandra Zaniewska (POL), [356] Andrea Koch-Benvenuto (CHI), [380] Ayaka Okuno (JPN) and [397] Sherazad Reix (FRA).

The 32-player field will vie for a share of US$15,000 in prize money and valuable world ranking points.

Tennis Australia Pro Tour Manager Fiona Luscombe said the tournament, to be held at Mornington Tennis Centre at Civic Reserve, was shaping up as a highlight of the 2015 Australian Pro Tour calendar.

“The players are really looking forward to travelling to Mornington to compete on clay, the local community is right behind the event and the stage is set for a fantastic week of tennis,” she said.

“We’re thrilled with the strength of the field we have assembled for the tournament and excited to welcome some of the best Australian and international rising stars to the region.

“Of course, the action will return the following week with the men’s ITF Futures event so we have a big fortnight of tennis ahead and I encourage all fans to get involved.”

Mornington Peninsula Shire Mayor, Councillor Bev Colomb, said the Mornington Tennis Centre was a true ‘tennis destination’ featuring 12 conipur clay courts, the same as those used for the WTA event in Stuttgart, and was selected by Tennis Australia to help attract international events to the region.

“On behalf of the Shire and our community I am so pleased to welcome this event and its players to the Mornington Peninsula,” Cr Colomb said.

“International and Australian players will have the chance to compete on this international-quality clay surface. As well as the top tennis action there will be a range of free activities including ANZ Tennis Hot Shots clinics and Cardio Tennis sessions.

“This event offers a fantastic opportunity for the community to see world class tennis right in their own backyard and I’m sure our local tennis fans and sports fans in general can’t wait to come along and watch this free event.

“I congratulate the team at Mornington Tennis Centre and Civic Reserve Recreation Centre for their support of this Australian Pro Tour event.”

Qualifying for the Mornington Peninsula Women’s Tennis International gets under way on Saturday 21 March, with main draw singles and doubles action to kick off on Tuesday 24 March. The women’s doubles final will be held on Friday 27 March with the singles decider to be played on Sunday 29 March.

Main draw action in the Mornington Peninsula Men’s International commences on Monday 30 March.