Stockbridge Legends tennis event to get £30k grant

Tim Henman in singles action in Stockbridge earlier this year. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

Tim Henman in singles action in Stockbridge earlier this year. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

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THE Legends tennis tournament in Edinburgh is set to be awarded £30,000 towards next year’s event despite a trouble-hit debut.

City council chiefs are expected to approve the funding on Tuesday in a contribution that will shore up the future of the Champions of Tennis competition, which brought stars such as three-time Wimbledon champion John McEnroe and Goran Ivanisevic to Stockbridge this year.

Strict conditions will be attached to the grant in concerted efforts to avoid the problems linked to a faulty roof that marred the inaugural event. Organising firm Serve and Volley will have to ensure proposed changes to the roof’s design will prevent water from getting onto the court and stopping play. Any doubt over the alterations working would lead to the funding being blocked.

The move comes after a specially-designed roof billed as weatherproof in the lead-up to the Raeburn Place tournament in June failed to prevent one of the days being almost washed out. The firm behind the event was threatened with legal action after punters who paid up to £100 for matches were subsequently refused a refund.

Other conditions that must be met for the council’s support include organisers securing a title sponsor and producing a “sound business plan”.

Council officers will also have to be shown the terms and conditions for ticket buyers before seats for 2014 go on sale.

The council’s contribution would go towards the overall funding pot for next year’s event, rather than to specific costs such as fixing the faulty roof.

City festivals and events champion Steve Cardownie, who watched McEnroe in action on the inaugural event’s final day, said: “The fact they could attract such big names down there to Stockbridge for the event was great. What wasn’t so good was the guarantees that the water would not interrupt the proceedings, which it did. I can understand many people’s annoyance and dismay.

“We’ve taken that on board, and tried to build in safeguards to make sure that won’t happen again.”

The city council contributed £50,000 to the 2013 tournament to match an equal contribution from EventScotland. Organisers will not receive any funding from EventScotland for 2014 amid a packed event schedule that includes the Ryder Cup, Commonwealth Games and MTV Awards, but said that would not jeopardised the competition’s viability.

Tournament director Viki Mendelssohn said: “Hopefully we can all look forward to a bigger and better event in 2014.”

dale.miller@edinburghnews.com