Looking back on this year’s Aegon International, I couldn’t be more delighted with how the tournament has played out.
This year’s record crowd of more than 40,000 enjoyed high quality matches on both the show courts and the outside courts.
The fans aren’t the only ones who benefit, the town also gets a boost from hosting the event.
Where possible, we hire local people, the hotels are full, the restaurants are packed and the shops do a roaring trade. That economic stimulation creates £5-million direct financial input into the town. All the TV coverage on the BBC, Eurosport and on channels in 30 other countries worldwide showcases Eastbourne to an international audience.
It’s been great having the BBC back down at Devonshire Park in 2013 after a couple of year’s absence. When the sun shines and the crowds flock to the Park it looks magical on TV.
Their alfresco studio - on the clubhouse balcony - added a great new dimension to their coverage and helped convey the unique Devonshire Park atmosphere to the audience at home.
The ranking cut-off for the men’s main draw this year was high and there is a strong, deep pool of players who are keen to compete here – both for the US$1-million combined prize purse, and to finalise their preparations for Wimbledon next week.
Some of the top 10-ranked men opt not to play in the week leading up to a Grand Slam, we understand that, but that won’t stop us trying to attract the big names on both the men’s and women’s side of the draw to Eastbourne.
With the depth in the women’s draw it was always going to be a big ask for the British girls, but Robson, Watson and Baltacha all had impressive first round wins and Bally’s performance against world No.10 Maria Kirilenko on Wednesday was remarkable.
We can’t forget Kyle Edmund either. He won his first-ever match on the ATP World Tour here this week and ran world No.14 Gilles Simon to two close tiebreak sets in the second round.
We’ve welcomed hundreds of school children to Devonshire Park over the past week and hope that what they’ve seen here will encourage some of them to take up tennis locally.
The LTA announced last week that Aegon UK will continue as the Lead Partner of British Tennis until 2017, continuing as title sponsor of the Aegon International which is good news for the event.
Everybody knows the LTA and the Eastbourne Borough Council have had a great working relationship over the past few years, and long may that continue.
I’d like to thank the Eastbourne Herald, all its readers and our customers for supporting the Aegon International this year and over many years previously. We hope to see everyone back at Devonshire Park in 2014 for the tournament’s 40th anniversary celebrations.