Former Wimbledon champion to play in Shrewsbury

A former Wimbledon champion and a host of potential tennis stars of the future are heading to Shrewsbury for the Aegon GB Pro-Series tournament at The Shrewsbury Club.

Qualifying for the $10K singles and doubles event featuring an international field of professional players begins on Sunday, with tennis continuing throughout next week leading up to finals day on Saturday, March 1.

The final entry list is yet to be confirmed but it will include Danish Davis Cup player Frederik Nielsen, 30, who teamed up with Jonathan Marray to win the 2012 Wimbledon Men's Doubles Championship.

Nielsen has been ranked as high as 190 in the men's singles rankings and has climbed to 17 in the doubles rankings during his career.  

Current British No 5 Dan Cox, ranked 244 in the world, will also be competing at Shrewsbury next week.     

A number of big names have graced the Sundorne venue in the past and last year's event was the catalyst for champion Dan Evans, the British No 2, to enjoy comfortably the best season of his career.

Evans, second only to Andy Murray in the British men's tennis rankings, will not be defending his title but said he has fond memories of his Shrewsbury success.

He felt his straight sets victory over Marcus Willis last March was the springboard to reach the third round of the US Open five months later.

"The US Open and what happened there was obviously good," said Evans. "But you always remember where you won as well and the tournament in Shrewsbury last year was good for me.

"It really kickstarted my year off. The tournament was very well run and if you get treated well, it makes you play better and makes the general standard of tennis much better.

"It's always nice if venues make it feel like a big event and that was the case at Shrewsbury.

"They put up stands for the final and a lot of the club members came along to watch which was nice."

Dave Courteen, the managing director of The Shrewsbury Club, said he was delighted to be welcoming the prestigious tournament back to Shropshire and welcomed the inclusion of a former Wimbledon champion in Nielsen.

There could be local representation, too, with Alex Tsakiris, who has been coaching the high performance programme at The Shrewsbury Club for the last three years, hoping to make the qualifying list for the tournament.

He last played competitively in his native Greece in the late 1990s when he picked up a world ranking point and is now on the comeback trail.

He has taken inspiration from how well Shrewsbury's Lauren McMinn, who now has a world ranking, performed in the Aegon Pro-Series women's tournament at The Shrewsbury Club last September.

Mr Courteen said: "We are hugely excited to be hosting the tournament again. It is a real fillip to the club and to tennis in Shropshire.

"We hope that we will again attract local people to watch the top class tennis for free on their doorstep and to support the strong contingent of British players, especially our Shrewsbury-based club coach Alex Tsakiris.

“We are really committed at The Shrewsbury Club to promote tennis at every level and this is a great chance for our junior players to brush shoulders with players who are competing on the world stage.

"As part of the week there will be junior activities and some of the players will be helping with coaching and talking to members about life as a professional player.”
  
There is free admission for much of the men's event but entrance to the final on Saturday, March 1 is by programme which is available from The Shrewsbury Club.

Picture caption: British No 2 Dan Evans, who has fond memories of The Shrewsbury Club, in action on his way to winning last year's Aegon Pro-Series tournament.

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Pete White Pete White

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