South East England has a thriving tennis circuit, with a diversity of clubs offering everything from junior tennis coaching to tournaments for the over-35s. There’s even a selection of luxury four and five-star hotels with their own tennis courts, in a region that benefits from a generally mild climate.
Some people may not be aware that the region hosts not only prestigious national tennis tournaments but also an international event that has attracted legendary players such as Virginia Wade, Chris Evert, Monica Seles, Martina Navratilova, Lindsay Davenport and Marion Bartoli over the years.
The Aegon International Women’s Tennis Association holds its prestigious annual tournament at Devonshire Park Lawn Tennis Club in Eastbourne. It has become an important event on the sporting calendar, since it’s traditionally held in June in the run-up to Wimbledon. Indeed, many players view it as a warm-up for Wimbledon, with tennis great Martina Navratilova achieving 11 Aegon International Eastbourne singles titles during her long career.
Devonshire Park has become an important venue on the international circuit because of its high-quality grass courts and the abundance of hotel accommodation. The weather also contributes to the tournament’s success, as Eastbourne is known as the “sunshine coast”.
South East England has also become pivotal in discovering and coaching new, young, British players; as the region has hosted a pilot event for the Lawn Tennis Association’s Support for the Junior Performance initiative. Launched in 2015, the scheme sees LTA coaches organising coaching sessions and training camps for young players from the under-10s to the under 18s. For players aged 6 to 8, tennis-themed fun days enable the LTA’s Talent Team to take their first look at the youngsters who may well become the tennis stars of the future.
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