ORGANISERS have been hailed for serving up an ace at the Champions of Tennis event – as weather forecasters warned fans to bring an umbrella.
Thousands are expected to descend on Raeburn Place over the next three days, where a specially constructed temporary court is hosting matches between legends including former Wimbledon champs John McEnroe and Goran Ivanisevic, and ex-British number one Tim Henman.
While the court is covered, fans have been urged to dress for rain to enjoy other festivities going on around the Stockbridge venue.
City leaders praised the event’s “electric” atmosphere as the first matches got under way yesterday and were particularly enthusiastic about a special tennis session in which pupils from Flora Stevenson, Stockbridge, Granton and Ferryhill primaries were put through their paces.
They were given the chance to show off their skills with a racquet to 2003 Wimbledon finalist Mark Philippoussis and previous Queen’s Club champion Wayne Ferreira.
Richard Lewis, the city council’s sports leader, said: “It is important that we capitalise on this excitement and encourage Edinburgh residents, particularly young people, to dust off their racquet or try tennis for the first time.
“The children were thrilled to meet Mark and Wayne and I am sure they have inspired them to continue playing tennis well beyond Wimbledon fortnight.”
The event marks the first time the ATP Champions tour has come to Scotland, with organisers planning to turn the event into a permanent fixture.
They said spectators visiting Raeburn Place would be treated to a feast of tennis, as McEnroe, Henman, Ivanisevic, Ferreira and Philippoussis line up against Spain’s Carlos Moya, Swede Thomas Enqvist and his compatriot Mikael Pernfors, and Britain’s Greg Rusedski.
But Met Office chiefs warned of changeable weather with “possible heavy showers” expected over the weekend.
A spokesman said: “People should bring umbrellas and rain coats. You’ve got quite changeable weather, with showers unfortunately accompanying the periods of sunshine. Tomorrow could see heavy showers.
“And it looks like it will be clear and windy with rain or showers on Sunday.”