A PREMIER tennis tournament boasting some of the sport’s biggest names has been cancelled at the eleventh hour after organisers failed to get the ”futuristic” new roof to work.
The Champions of Tennis event – featuring legends John McEnroe and Tim Henman – was at the centre of controversy last year after a wash-out caused by an ill-fitting roof saw just two hours of active play.
Organiser Serve & Volley had commissioned a new roof to give better protection for this year, but announced yesterday that problems with the roof could not be overcome, the event was being called off and the company was going into voluntary liquidation.
Sponsors Brodie’s promised refunds if people were unable to get their money back from Serve & Volley or their credit or debit card providers.
The council was due to give £25,000 towards tomorrow’s event and had already handed over £15,000.
Festivals and events champion Councillor Steve Cardownie said: “With the excitement building for Wimbledon, Champions of Tennis was set to be promising tournament, featuring some of the greatest tennis legends. It is extremely disappointing that the event has been cancelled.”
Last year, spectators who paid up to £100 for matches at the Raeburn Place venue had been assured a bespoke canopy would ensure that rain would not stop play, but organisers blamed “sideways” showers for disrupting the tournament.
Serve & Volley said: “Following on from last year’s event we revised the design of the roof covering the court to provide better weather protection.
“This resulted in a unique and complex design, which required specialists to manage and oversee the build. Due to unforeseen circumstances the specialist team have been unable to facilitate the build and despite extensively investigating all alternative options we have not been able to secure a solution.
“We fully appreciate the disappointment this will cause customers, sponsors and suppliers; this decision has not been taken lightly. The unavoidable cancellation resulting from the problems experienced with the roof has resulted in the organisers, Serve & Volley Ltd, entering into voluntary liquidation.”
Brodie’s said they were only told of yesterday morning that the new roof could not be erected effectively.
A spokesman said: “This was contrary to all assurances given to us by the organisers. The organisers advised us they were looking at options to reorganise the event as an open-air tournament, but we understand this proved impractical in the time available.
“We are hugely disappointed that this has caused the cancellation of the tournament by Serve & Volley at this stage. We share the frustration of the many tennis fans who bought tickets expecting to see a premier sporting event.
“Our paramount concern is for these ticket holders. Although the tickets were sold by Serve & Volley, as a gesture of goodwill, Brodie’s will refund the cost of tickets to individual ticket holders who are unable to recover the cost of tickets from Serve & Volley or from their credit or debit card providers.”
HENMAN COULD STILL SWING BY
FOUR-TIME Wimbledon semi-finalist Tim Henman was also due to visit a city tennis club during his planned visit to the Capital this week.
The former world number four was expected to declare a new court at the Grange Club in Stockbridge ready for play on Thursday night.
It’s understood bosses at the club haven’t heard from Henman yet, but they expect him to cancel the commitment.
Henman, however, is a scratch-handicap golfer and may choose to make use of the new gap in his diary to get swinging on some of the top quality courses across East Lothian.
But with two weeks in his role as a key commentator and analyst on the BBC’s coverage of WImbledon coming up, it’s likely the 39-year-old won’t make the journey north.