The first of Perth’s Women’s Pro Tour events, the Perth Tennis International #1, gets underway this Saturday at the State Tennis Centre, with the field boasting an impressive line-up of international talent from 18 different countries, headlined by top seed and world number 167 Eri Hozumi (JPN), who began 2018 competing at the Australian Open followed by the Taiwan Open.
23 year old Hozumi is coming off the back of a successful 2017, which included winning the US$25K Toowoomba Pro Tour event and reaching the final at the US$60K Izmir ITF tournament.
Hozumi will face some stiff competition from second seed Irina Khromacheva (RUS) who has had an impressive 12 months, winning two Pro Tour singles titles and reaching the semi-finals and quarter-finals at four ITF tournaments in 2017. Khromacheva, who is currently ranked 188 in the world, took out the doubles title at the City of Playford Tennis International, her first ITF tournament for 2018, and will be looking to continue this success in Perth.
Last year’s semi-finalist Tereza Mrdeza (CRO) will return to Perth, hoping to take home the silverware in 2018. Currently ranked 224 in the world, the Croatian reached the final of three European ITF tournaments last year and will be aiming to go one step further by winning a Pro Tour title in Perth.
Mrdeza will be joined on the State Tennis Centre courts by London Olympic silver medallist Laura Robson (GBR) who will make her debut in Perth, ranked number 7 in the draw. Robson reached her highest singles ranking of 27 in 2013, a year in which she also reached the third round at the Australian Open and the fourth round at Wimbledon.
Despite the strength of the international contingent, the Australian line-up is not to be underestimated.
The highest ranked Australian player, Jaimee Fourlis, returns to WA, having won the Perth Tennis International #1 as a qualifier two years ago. Fourlis has started strongly in 2018, earning a wildcard into the main draw of the Australian Open after winning the 18’s Girl’s Australian Championships in Melbourne. This was Fourlis’ second appearance in the Australian Open main draw, after she became the youngest Australian female in nine years to win a match at Melbourne Park in 2017.
WA local Maddison Inglis (AUS) will look to capitalise on her home ground advantage after a dream start to 2018. The 20 year old made her debut appearance at the Mastercard Hopman Cup, standing in for Japan’s Naomi Osaka and teaming up with Yuichi Sugita (JPN) to defeat Coco Vandeweghe (USA) and fellow fill-in Pat Cash (USA) in the mixed doubles. Later in the week Inglis stepped in again, this time for injured Canadian Eugenie Bouchard, and alongside Vasek Pospisil (CAN) took on the formidable Belgian pair Elise Mertens and David Goffin in the mixed doubles match.
Joining the fierce Aussie contingent in the qualifying draw is New South Wales’ Ellen Perez who has had a successful 12 months, consistently making the final rounds in both singles and doubles ITF events. Perez will be battling for a place in the main draw alongside fellow Aussies Kimberly Birrell, Olivia Tjandramulia, Alexandra Bozovic, Alison Bai and Naiktha Bains, who took out five doubles and one singles title on the 2017 ITF Women’s Circuit.
Tournament Director, Loretta Hughes is thrilled with this year’s line-up of players.
“It’s fantastic to see such a strong field for the Perth Tennis International. These events launch the players into the world of professional tennis, and allow spectators to become familiar with some of the future champions of our game” Ms Hughes said.
“After the success of last year’s event, we are so excited to see some of the best emerging talent in Australia, and around the world, come back to Perth to battle for valuable world ranking points and a share of the US$50K prize pool. We hope that the local community will once again head down to witness some of the finest local and international talent right here in our own backyard” Ms Hughes added.
Qualifying for the Perth Tennis International #1 will begin on Saturday 10 February, and the main draw on Tuesday 13 February with play commencing at 9.00am each day (time TBC).
This event will be immediately followed by the Perth Tennis International #2, commencing on Saturday 17 February.
The Perth Pro Tour provides international and national professional and aspiring pro players a competitive opportunity to earn world ranking points and a share of US$50,000 in prize money across the two week swing.
Entry is free to all events.
There will also be a free live stream so people can catch all the action from home. Live scores and streaming of all Australian Pro Tour events are available at www.tennis.com.au/protour.
For more information about the Australian Pro Tour visit www.tennis.com.au/protour.
For Australian Pro Tour score updates follow @oztennisresults on Twitter.