International tennis IS planned for Eastbourne this summer
The LTA has served up some great news for Eastbourne - the town's hugely popular week of international tennis is in the schedule for this year.
The LTA today announced its calendar of summer tournaments for 2021, with a commitment to stage as much live competitive tennis this summer as is possible, despite the limitations caused by Covid-19.
Eastbourne tennis week was lost to the Covid lockdown this year, but with government announcements due next week that could include news of when fans can return to sport arenas, there are high hopes the event will go ahead - possibly with a crowd.
The LTA's events are planned to be held in their traditional weeks, beginning with the Nottingham Open WTA 250 on 5 June at the Nottingham Tennis Centre. The following week beginning 12 June will see the cinch Championships ATP 500 take place at The Queen’s Club in London and the Birmingham Classic WTA 250 at the Edgbaston Priory Club along with ITF2 Wheelchair events at both venues.
Starting on 19 June is the Eastbourne International combined WTA 500 and ATP 250 at Devonshire Park.
Wimbledon, which is staged by the AELTC, is planned to take place from 28 June to 11 July 2021. The British Open Wheelchair Tennis Championships will also take place in Nottingham between 20-25 July.
The LTA said: "Whilst it remains too early to say what level of attendance will be possible, the LTA is planning for a number of scenarios and remains cautiously optimistic that fans will be able to be present at all its summer events this year.
"The LTA is working closely with the Department for Digital, Culture Media and Sport, The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC), WTA, ATP, ITF, Sports Ground Safety Authority, other NGBs, our host venues and numerous partners and suppliers in order to develop its planning for events that provide a safe environment for players, officials, volunteers, and spectators. The national governing body’s intention is for the events to take place even if they are behind closed doors.
"In order to prioritise resources and reduce the number of COVID bubbles, for players, officials and volunteers that have to be created at different venues, a number of changes have been made to the Trophy Series this summer. These have been agreed with the AELTC, ATP, WTA and ITF as the most effective way of delivering a grass court season and competitive opportunities for players, given the unique and difficult operational circumstances presented by COVID-19.
"The Surbiton Trophy men’s and women’s events and Manchester Trophy women’s event will not take place in 2021.
"The Nottingham Open ATP Challenger 125 event will take place from 6-13 June, whilst the Nottingham Open WTA 250 main draw singles will be increased to 48, providing 16 additional main draw playing opportunities.
"Beginning on 13 June the men’s ATP Challenger 125 and women’s ITF W100 combined Ilkley Trophy will move from Ilkley Lawn Tennis & Squash Club to Nottingham Tennis Centre for this year. This is to ensure a bubble, including accommodation, can be maintained on a single site over a two week period.
"We will keep these arrangements under review as the situation evolves both within the UK and internationally.
"Given the uncertainties that remain around the level of spectator attendance further details on ticket and hospitality sales will be released closer to the time. There will also be further direct communication to all ticket holders who had their tickets rolled over from 2020 in the coming weeks. Details of other LTA events later in the year will be released in due course.
Scott Lloyd, Chief Executive of the LTA said: “It remains a very challenging time for the whole country, but we are cautiously looking forward to the summer and what we hope will be the return of the British grass court season. We face an uncertain picture in the months ahead and our priority must be the health and safety of the public and all those involved in staging our events. However our hope right now is that we will have some level of spectator attendance at all our events. We know how much fans want to come back, and the sport isn’t the same without them, so we are planning for their return and hoping that circumstances will make that possible.
"Staging events, especially those involving a large number of international competitors is exceptionally complicated at present, but we are working hard along with our partners to make this possible and provide the best preparation for The Championships at Wimbledon. The cost of delivering this planned calendar is double that of the grass court series hosted in this country in any normal year. Sadly this has meant that we have had to make some changes to our Trophy Series events, although we have also increased some draw sizes where we can. We will keep these arrangements under review over the coming months and remain committed to increasing the number of domestic events we stage in future years.
"Our focus is now on resolving the many logistical and operational challenges that remain so that we can all look forward to a summer of world class tennis in 2021.”
Andrea Gaudenzi, ATP Chairman, said: “The hard work and resolve shown across our sport during the pandemic has been remarkable. The LTA’s commitment to staging a strong British summer of tennis is yet another example, prioritising the safety of those involved and adapting to considerable operational challenges. Players and fans all missed grass-court tennis and these fantastic tournaments in 2020, and we look forward with cautious optimism to their successful return this year.”
Eastbourne International (WTA 500/ATP 250)
19 - 26 June 2021
Devonshire Park, Eastbourne