Five Bendigo tennis players begin their qualifying campaigns for the William Loud Bendigo International this weekend.
Curt Garwood, the sole local hope in the men’s qualifying, takes on Matthew Tanza at 10am at the Bendigo Tennis Association’s Nolan Street complex.
All men’s qualifying matches will be played today, with the women’s matches held tomorrow.
Four female BTA players have been given the chance to qualify due to lower player entries – Mikaela Adamson, Ashlea Baker, Andrine Holt-Crossman and Hope Curtis-McDonald.
Eight qualifying spots for the main draw of the US$40,000 tournament are available for both men and women.
Players need to win three matches to earn a spot in the main draw, which hits off on Tuesday.
Knowsley’s Eliza Long is already assured of her place in the main draw after receiving a wildcard from Tennis Australia.
The reigning national under-16s champion’s cause was helped with a top Pro Circuit performance at this week’s Traralgon International.
Long won three qualifying matches and her debut main draw match in the opening round.
Long’s first-round game at the Bendigo International is likely to be played on Wednesday’s public holiday for the Bendigo Cup.
Australian number four Olivia Rogowska is the number one seed for the $US25,000 women’s draw.
Rising star and 2011 Junior Wimbledon champion Ashleigh Barty is seeded third, behind Russia’s world number 231 Daria Gavrilova.
Reigning champion Matt Reid leads the contenders in the $US15,000 men’s event, along with John Millman and last year’s runner-up Benjamin Mitchell.
BTA executive officer Leon Retallick said the event allows regional Victorians to watch some top-quality tennis.
“Hosting a Pro Tour tournament allows the local community to see some of the nation’s best up-and-coming talent and gives local players the opportunity to participate in an elite tennis event, confirming Bendigo as a significant regional tennis partner,” Retallick said.
More than 150 players, including 19 international players from 11 countries, will take part in the event with finals held next weekend.