One of the most loved and enduring events in the national tennis calendar takes place next week as county teams battle it out in the LTA’s Summer County from Monday 22 to Friday 26 July, with Eastbourne’s Devonshire Park once again set to stage the pinnacle of the competition.
First played in 1895, ‘County Week’, as it is fondly known, is one of the oldest tournaments in the tennis calendar. County teams are organised into seven women’s groups and seven men’s groups, with teams for each tie consisting of three doubles pairs. This year will see over 200 ties and almost 2,000 rubbers played during the week, as teams from 44 counties across Great Britain compete to earn promotion and avoid relegation from their respective groups.
The premier group matches in both the men’s and women’s events will take place on the outstanding courts at Devonshire Park, the traditional home of the event, with free entry for spectators. Six women’s and six men’s teams will be battling it out for the 2019 County Cup titles in the unique and atmospheric setting of the seaside tennis venue.
Suffolk will be aiming to defend the men’s title they won for the first time ever last year, with them facing newly promoted Kent and South Wales, as well as teams representing Essex, Hertfordshire and Middlesex. In the women’s competition, reigning champions Surrey won the title for a record 50th time last year – promoted Middlesex and Yorkshire will join Essex, Hertfordshire and Warwickshire in trying to take the title from them.
The provisional nominations for the twelve teams feature a number of well-known players, including both Evan Hoyt (South Wales) & Eden Silva (Essex), who reached the Quarter-Finals of the Mixed Doubles together at Wimbledon last week, as well as Anton Matusevich (Kent) who reached the Quarter-Finals of the Junior Boys Event at The Championships.
LTA Tournament Director Julie Piper said: “We are once again excited to be returning to Eastbourne to bring this top class event back to the fantastic courts at Devonshire Park. The players all feel a great sense of pride representing their County and the crowds really get behind them. There is always a great atmosphere which is part of what makes this event such a special part of the tennis calendar. It’s free to attend and we’d love to see as many local people as possible come along to enjoy some entertaining, top quality and hard-fought tennis.”
Jo Craven, Team Captain of Yorkshire Ladies who are back in the top division for the first time since 2002 this year, said; “We are excited to be back playing in Eastbourne – it’s been 17 years since Yorkshire Ladies were in Group 1. I am very proud of the team who have worked so hard to get us back to the top flight of County Cup tennis and we are very much looking forward to the week”.
The Eastbourne event is the pinnacle of the County Cup, with a further 12 grass court venues around the country staging events for Groups 2-7 in each of the men’s and women’s events. The leading two counties in each group earn promotion to the group above them for the 2020 competition, with the bottom two counties relegated to the group below.
The County Cup event at Devonshire Park follows on from another successful edition of the LTA’s Nature Valley International tournament held in the unique and atmospheric setting of the seaside tennis venue last month. Continuing to be selected to stage events like these is a reflection of the outstanding quality of the grass courts at Devonshire Park, which won the ‘Professional Tennis Courts Grounds Team’ award at the prestigious Institute of Groundsmanship Awards last year.
Weather permitting; play starts no later than 10.30am each day and entry is free for all. For more information, including the draws and orders of play, head to the LTA County Cup website.