Week of tennis was smashing for Eastbourne!

Devonshire Park tennis centre court. Picture by Mark Jarvis

Devonshire Park tennis centre court. Picture by Mark Jarvis

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EASTBOURNE is celebrating an ace week of tennis with this year’s AEGON International serving up record-breaking ticket sales.

The strongest ever player field and a real festival feeling throughout the town with local businesses, schools and residents showing their support for this year’s tournament contributed to the overall event.

Despite a couple of days of rain suspending play, the 2011 AEGON International saw more than 35,800 spectators gather at Devonshire Park to witness some of the world’s best players, including Venus and Serena Williams, compete for the prestigious trophy.

With blue skies and bright sunshine on the Tuesday, the tournament saw the highest ever Tuesday admissions with 5,903 spectators visiting Devonshire Park to watch a star-studded line up.

Players on court that day included the return of Serena Williams as well as Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, British number one Elena Baltacha, Ana Ivanovic, Lleyton Hewitt and Jamie Murray, smashing the previous record of 5,480, which was set 10 years ago.

The final Saturday of the tournament saw a packed day of tennis including both men’s and women’s semi-finals and finals after rain stopped play on Friday.

A total of 5,607 spectators watched as Andreas Seppi triumphed over Janko Tipsarevic in the men’s singles and Marion Bartoli defeating Petra Kvitova in the women’s singles.

Eastbourne MP Stephen Lloyd said, “What a fantastic week of tennis in Eastbourne with the LTA delivering world class tennis to our town.

“We already received a great boost earlier this year when the LTA confirmed a new three-year deal for the AEGON International in Eastbourne and we have really stepped up our partnership to stage a spectacular week of tennis for the town.

“I was also particularly delighted, after all the work so many of us had done, that Eastbourne itself saw much more of a benefit from our tennis visitors this year.

“I am determined to keep pushing Eastbourne and determined our town benefits more from fantastic events such as the AEGON International.”

Councillor David Tutt, leader of Eastbourne Borough Council, added “With 13 out of the world’s top 20 players taking part in this year’s tournament, Eastbourne was being talked about around the world and it was brilliant to see so many spectators enjoying the garden party atmosphere at Devonshire Park.”

Saturday also saw the women’s doubles final with top seeds Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik beating second seeded Americans Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond.

The men’s doubles finals was rolled over to Sunday and played in Roehampton, South West London, with Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram triumphing over Andreas Seppi and Grigor Dimitrov.

Next year’s AEGON International will take place from June 16-23 2012.