This week, Wimbledon’s grass courts at Aorangi Park opened to members for the first time in 2012, but fans’ eyes will be looking further north in the run-up to the AEGON Classic in Birmingham.
The June 11th-17th event has become a firm addition to the calendar of British tennis events, and this year’s line-up holds several big names bidding for victory at Edgbaston Priory Club.
Among them is Daniela Hantuchova, the 29-year-old Slovakian star with five WTA and three ITF singles titles to her name, along with a semi-final appearance in the Australian Open and quarter-final places in the US Open and at Wimbledon.
Last year, Hantuchova – known to her fans simply as Dani – reached the final of the AEGON Classic before losing to Sabine Lisicki of Germany.
This time around, the Slovak returns to try and go one better, but several rising stars of the British game will be standing in her way.
Laura Robson, Heather Watson, Anne Keothavong and Elena Baltacha are all among the UK’s entries into the field, which tournament director Patrick Hughesman is understandably pleased about.
He tells the Lawn Tennis Association: “I’m delighted that there will be a number of top-ranked British players in action and it will be interesting to see them up against some of the best players on the women’s tour.”
Meanwhile, several changes are afoot at Wimbledon ahead of this summer’s action, where the venue will serve not only as the host of the usual Championships, but also for the Olympic tennis events.
With this in mind, plans are in motion to ensure a high-quality playing surface on the grass courts, despite low levels of rainfall so far this year.
As a sporting event of national and international significance, Wimbledon is exempt from hose-pipe bans, allowing the turf to be kept healthy.
But other efforts will be made to reduce water consumption at the venue – including a reduced number of flower baskets hung around the complex this summer.