Bendigo’s reputation for staging world class tennis events has taken another huge step forward with the arrival of a new ATP80 Men’s Challenger in January, as an opener to Australian Open 2020.
A strong international field is expected to gain entry to the US$55,000 Challenger at the premier Victorian regional town, built on the gold rush boom in 1858 and now a popular destination for travellers and tennis players.
For the past 10 years, Bendigo has hosted Pro Tour events at the Fosterville Gold Tennis Centre, including most recently the women’s US$60,000 Pro Tour event.
The men’s event starts on 12 January and will follow the first leg of the 2020 Australian Men’s Pro Tour in Canberra, starting on 6 January.
“This is a great win for Bendigo,” said the City of Greater Bendigo mayor, Cr Margaret O’Rourke.
“Tennis is hugely popular in Greater Bendigo and we are delighted to add this international event to our sporting calendar during January.
“The Bendigo Tennis Centre has undergone a major redevelopment in the past couple of years and it’s now a first class facility perfect for events like this one.”
Following changes to the summer of tennis in January and the arrival of the ATP Cup, a new international team competition to kickstart the men’s season and featuring representatives from 24 nations, the Australian Pro Tour is an essential component for players hunting ranking points and preparation for the Australian Open, from 20 January to 7 February.
“We are expecting a very strong player field,” said Tennis Australia Director of Performance, Wally Masur.
“It is anticipated players from the world’s top 100 will feature in the Bendigo Challenger, given it is scheduled the week prior to the Australian Open as they compete for significant prize money and valuable world ranking points.
“The Challenger Tour is a very important step towards the highest level of professional tennis, and a significant part of the competitive pathway for both our rising stars and established and experienced tour players.
“The ingredients are there for a spectacularly competitive event in a brilliant location.”
As with the women’s Pro Tour event, the Bendigo ATP80 challenger will be played on outdoor hard court, providing similar conditions to Melbourne Park, home of the Australian Open.
The singles main draw size is 48, along with a 16-team draw in doubles and a four-player qualifying event. This year the ATP Tour Challenger Tour categories have been rebranded in accordance to the number of ranking points on offer.
“We are very proud of the Association, its facilities and commitment to facilitating the growth of tennis in Bendigo,” said Bendigo Tennis Association’s James Rouel.
“This Challenger will drive further interest in the sport and an opportunity for local people to take up volunteer roles, such as ballkids, drivers and player services.”
The Nolan street courts comprise 26 hard courts, LED lighting, a spacious new clubhouse and changing rooms, pro shop and undercover barbecue area. It is has long fostered juniors on a tennis trajectory via the Bendigo Tennis Academy, and has installed permanent Hots Shots courts for beginning players.
The Australian Pro Tour runs in two instalments: from January to April, and September through to November. It comprises 28 events, and culminates in the AO Wildcard Playoff in December.
The Bendigo Challenger is part of the Australian Pro Tour, a series of professional tennis events that bridge upcoming players with the ATP/WTA Tour, providing an opportunity for players to compete against an elite international field, earn prizemoney and significant world ranking points.