Strength of Shrewsbury tennis tournament hailed ahead of main draw matches starting today

Julie Piper, the tournament director for the Lawn Tennis Association, has hailed the strength of this week’s Budgen Motors GB Pro-Series women’s tennis tournament at The Shrewsbury Club ahead of the main draw matches getting under way today (Tuesday).

Delighted with the quality of entrants for the $25,000 International Tennis Federation event, she said: “I think it’s probably one of the strongest 25K events I’ve seen for a number of years. Arantxa Rus, from the Netherlands, was ranked in the top 100 and was runner-up in the Wirral Pro-Series tournament last week to Diana Marcinkevica, who is also taking part this week, so it’s very strong indeed. 

“There’s a good British entry with the top ranked player Gabriella Taylor, who has just come back from playing in Australia, so it’s very exciting.

“With the newly resurfaced courts and the new, improved lighting at The Shrewsbury Club, it’s very impressive. The players have come in and said ‘wow - the courts look amazing, the lighting’s brighter.’ They notice these things and it’s been very positive feedback.”

Dave Courteen, The Shrewsbury Club’s managing director, added: “We are delighted to have so many fantastic players with us here in Shrewsbury once again this week. It’s a great opportunity for the local community to have the chance to watch such a high level of tennis and we are grateful to Budgen Motors for their valued support."

The draw for the opening round of the main draw matches took place at a reception hosted by Budgen Motors on Featherbed Lane last night, with top seed Rus, currently 108 in the world rankings, paired against 18-year-old Scot Ali Collins, who has received a wild card for this week’s tournament.

Rising British star Taylor, the second seed, will begin her quest to enjoy a successful week in Shropshire against experienced Croatian Ana Vrljic, while Katy Dunne, the next highest seeded Brit at seven, has been drawn against Russian player Valeria Savinykh.

Yesterday's second qualifying round proved productive for British players, with three of the four in action winning through to the main draw.

Freya Christie, the beaten 2015 finalist at Shrewsbury, recovered from losing the opening set to get the better of higher ranked German Jule Niemeier 5-7, 6-2, 6-1. Christie, who spoke at last night's reception, will take on Bulgarian Isabella Shinikova in round one.

Maia Lumsden took just over an hour to sweep aside Iva Primorac 6-0, 6-2, her third victory in as many meetings against the Croatian, while Eden Silva beat German Tayisiya Morderger in three sets.

But Ella Taylor, the fourth Brit in action, bowed out, losing in straight sets to Eleni Kordolaimi from Greece.

Today’s first round matches start at 10am, with admission free for spectators throughout the week.

Pictured: British player Freya Christie, who will celebrate her 21st birthday later this week, at last night's reception at Budgen Motors, with Julie Piper, the tournament director for the LTA, and Dave Courteen, the managing director of The Shrewsbury Club. Picture: Richard Dawson Photography.