Tennis tournament to return with fixed roof

Rain stopped play at the Champions of Tennis tournament in June. Picture: Jane Barlow
Rain stopped play at the Champions of Tennis tournament in June. Picture: Jane Barlow
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A TENNIS tournament featuring some of the biggest stars of the game looks set to return to the Capital, with organisers finalising a deal to fix the event’s faulty roof and ensure rain doesn’t stop play.

The Champions of Tennis competition boasting stars such as three-time Wimbledon champion John McEnroe is on track to return for a second year in Stockbridge on the back of renewed public support.

The tournament at Raeburn Place had been stung by criticism after a specially-designed roof billed as weatherproof in the lead-up to the June event failed to stop one of the days getting almost completely washed out with rain.

Punters who paid up to £100 for matches had threatened legal action after being refused a refund, with the financial risk heightening chances of organisers Serve and Volley abandoning the event.

However, tournament 
director Viki Mendelssohn yesterday said she was “confident” the four-day competition would survive.

A council report said Serve and Volley had “secured” the services of an engineering company that could make the necessary changes to the roof to prevent rain from getting on to the playing surface a second time round. Payments to fix the roof will have to be managed by Serve and Volley, with the company having bought rather than hired the cover.

Ms Mendelssohn would not confirm the identity of the engineering firm, but said: “We’re discussing all the potential opportunities for next year. I want to do the event next year . . . the signs are all very positive.”

An independent assessment commissioned by EventScotland found more than 90 per cent of spectators interviewed had rated their visit to the tournament as either “good” or “very good”.

More than 10,000 people attended the event.

Ms Mendelssohn will go to Tuesday’s culture and sport committee meeting at the City Chambers where she is expected to be quizzed by councillors over solutions to the inaugural event’s failings.

Committee member Councillor Lindsay Paterson said she would want a “cast iron” guarantee that blowing rain would not halt play in 2014 if the council were again to contribute £50,000 to the 
tournament.

She said: “I’d be very hesitant to put more money towards something that I wasn’t absolutely sure would be a success next year.”

Serving up a ‘real buzz’

CROWDS flocking to Stockbridge for this year’s Brodies Champions of Tennis event had created a “real buzz” around

the city suburb, according to community groups.

The tournament run from June 20-23 has been credited with injecting £238,000 into the Edinburgh economy. Estimates have put the value of television and web streaming coverage, as well as broadcast news exposure, at

£1.1 million.

Douglas Roberts, chairman of Supporting a Flourishing Stockbridge (SFS), attended the washed-out day of play after being given tickets.

He said the estimated financial windfall sounded right, adding: “My girlfriend and I couldn’t get into places. The restaurants and pubs were certainly full. It seems to me that local businesses were certainly busier.”