Tennis fever to grip Bendigo

FESTIVE: Michael Smyth (City of Greater Bedndigo), Adam Crameri (Tennis Victoria), Bendigo West MP Maree Edwards and Leon Retallick (Bendigo Tennis Association) at Thursday's launch. Picture: DARREN HOWE

FESTIVE: Michael Smyth (City of Greater Bedndigo), Adam Crameri (Tennis Victoria), Bendigo West MP Maree Edwards and Leon Retallick (Bendigo Tennis Association) at Thursday's launch. Picture: DARREN HOWE

BENDIGO shapes as a potential destination for former junior Wimbledon champion Ashleigh Barty on her pro tennis comeback trail.

The 20-year-old Queenslander, who spent last season playing cricket with the Brisbane Heat in the Women's Big Bash League, is one of the potential starters for next month's Bendigo Tennis International.

The Pro Tour tournament is the marquee event of the Bendigo Festival Tennis, which hits-off on October 23.

More than 800 tennis players will grace the courts at the Bendigo Tennis Association's Nolan Street complex over the festival's eight-days, including 64 of Australia's top senior and juniors.

World ranking points and $50,000 in prize money will be up for grabs at the Pro Tour event.

BTA executive officer Leon Retallick said the festival was always an exciting time for tennis followers in Bendigo, especially with the Bendigo Tennis International returning for an eighth year.

"We've had some great names in the past come - Daria Gavrilova, who's now top 30 in the world and playing at the Olympics for Australia, Casey Dellacqua and Ashleigh Barty, making a return to tennis now," he said.

"We are very hopeful of seeing her at our Pro Tour event.

"There's lots of other community events running through the festival - we have some junior events, a corporate challenge and some school groups."

Retallick said the festival would serve as a "last-hurrah" for the association's clubhouse and administration centre, with work on a more than $5 million upgrade set to commence a day after the festival ends.

About 1000 primary school-aged children are expected to take up the opportunity to participate in ANZ Tennis Hot Shots activations on centre court as a prelude to the Pro Tour matches.

"This festival offers a fantastic opportunity for the local community to see world class tennis right here at home," Retallick said.

The festival was launched on Thursday by Tennis Victoria manager participation and country tennis Adam Crameri and Member for Bendigo West Maree Edwards, who announced a $10,000 state government grant to support the festival.

The launch coincided with the second day of play in the 2016 Bendigo Junior Open and Association Championships, an Australian ranking event involving 360 players.

“We had a tough day Wednesday with the rain but we still managed to get through over 150 matches,” Retallick said.

“We have 250 on the schedule for today (Thursday) and tomorrow and over the five days we’ll play about 1000 matches.”

Finals will be played from 10am Sunday.

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