The Nottingham Tennis Open, played every summer in the week immediately preceding the Wimbledon fortnight, has become an integral part of the grass court season. Since its inception in 1995, Nottingham locals have been treated to some of the world’s best players on their doorstep, with previous winners including Richard Gasquet, Sebastian Grosjean and Britain’s own Greg Rusedski.
However, as of next year the tournament will cease to exist as the Lawn Tennis Associatian (LTA), Britain’s tennis governing body, has announced that the event shall be moved to Eastbourne. The development officer for the West Bridgford Tennis Club, Lesley Whitehead, has described the decision as a loss that will be felt across the city.
As Whitehead recently articulated in the Nottingham Evening Post the event offers a great deal more than simply an opportunity to watch world class tennis. Whitehead explained that local children “have received mini tennis coaching in a fun environment from local LTA qualified coaches and have been able to mill around the outside courts to get a glimpse of the world-ranked players they might dream of becoming”. The club also offers local youngsters the opportunity to be ball girls and ball boys for the event whilst older club members have volunteered to perform a range of jobs, from selling programmes to stewarding.
Being a keen tennis fan myself and having been lucky enough to work at the All England Club during the Wimbledon fortnight, I have experienced first-hand the huge excitement of being a part of a top-flight tennis tournament. The loss of the Nottingham Open will be as great a loss to the tennis viewing public as it will be to those lucky enough to work at the tournament in the presence of so many world class tennis players.
Whitehead’s lamentations in the Evening Post it should be noted scarcely led to an outpouring of grief. Indeed the only response on the Newspaper’s website seemed more concerned with the standard of the event’s food than with the loss of the event itself. Perhaps the loss will only be fully felt next year on a gloriously sunny June day when nothing would be more appealing than watching a hard fought tennis match between some of the world’s best players.