Former world No. 4 Thomas Enqvist of Sweden is confirmed today as the first player to return to Raeburn Place from June 19-22 for the Brodies Champions of Tennis event.
The Masters tournament, featuring the likes of ex-Wimbledon winners John McEnroe and Goran Ivanisevic as well as Britons Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski, was plagued by bad weather in the later stages last year but amid pledges of a “gesture of goodwill” to those hardest hit at the box office, organisers insist improvements have been made.
With the rest of the field expected to be announced over the next few weeks, promoter Viki Mendelssohn, of Serve and Volley Ltd, told the Evening News: “Last year’s circumstances happened. We’ve learned from them and made improvements.
“We’ve done all we can to improve the structure, reduced prices on the Thursday and Friday with kids going free on the opening day to make the event more accessible to families.”
The tournament, which takes place on a specially constructed court surface at the Edinburgh Accies rugby ground under an overhead canopy, has also received strong endorsement from The Association of Tennis Professionals’ (ATP) Champions. That organisation’s head, Jan Felgate, said: “I was delighted with the way the ATP Champions Tour was welcomed in Scotland. The players thoroughly enjoyed their time and are looking forward to returning.
“There were so many positive comments from the players and officials following last year and we are looking forward to working with the Brodies Champions of Tennis team to ensure another thriving event.”
Mendelssohn added: “10,000 people came and over 96 per cent surveyed said they would all come back. We’ll be doing more with schools and hopefully the tournament will grow so that we might eventually have more than one court.”
In a statement, the tournament organisers admitted the event’s problems: “For some, the 2013 event was marred by inclement weather which delayed play on the Saturday afternoon.
“Having reviewed the event and spectator feedback, a number of significant developments have been put in place for 2014 including an extension to the stadium roof, new ticket packages and a loyalty package for repeat ticket purchasers.”
Former Australian Open finalist Enqvist said: “I’m very happy to come back and play and try to defend my title in Edinburgh. I know I speak for all of the players when I say we had a great time last year. It really was a fantastic event. With Scottish tennis blooming from the success of Andy Murray, I’m sure we will see great crowds this year too.”
Tickets for this year’s event go on sale from Friday priced £30-£100. They can be purchased at at www.championsoftennis.com/tickets/