Protour is back again

TENNIS INTERNATIONAL: David Tilbrook, Darren Sahb, Hayden Scarman, Maureen Smith, Hudson Tilbrook and mayor Leon Stephens.
TENNIS INTERNATIONAL: David Tilbrook, Darren Sahb, Hayden Scarman, Maureen Smith, Hudson Tilbrook and mayor Leon Stephens.

Players competing in the Australia Protour will play their next matches in Port Pirie when the Come See Change Tennis International landed on our courts on Monday.

The tournament will bring approximately 60 women competitors who will be either playing in the main draw or competing for a spot in the draw.

The competition will bring professionally ranked players from Australia but also many other countries around the world, including some popular and up and coming names.

“Jennifer Elie from the United States of America (USA) has come to Port Pirie before, she is the highest ranked player in the tournament, ranked at 471 and we have one of our local players Amber Marshall who will be playing in the tournament as well, she is only 17 but playing women’s tennis,” the tournament director Darren Sahb explained. 

“We have also got  Lulu Sun who is from Switzerland, she had a really good run at the Playford International at the start of the year and we have other players Michiru Furuya from Japan and Patricia Boentgen from Germany as well. Most of the players are from overseas, it is pretty exciting,” he said. 

There are two players from Adelaide including Charlotte Kempenaers-Pocz and Natasha Russell, who are both younger, but will be vying for qualifying positions.

The tournament is returning to the city after a two year hiatus and officials are happy to see it come back, with new courts just a start to the excitement the tour brings.

“We really want to promote tennis in the regional areas. It is back on the pro tour, there is a major upgrade of the tennis courts. We always love to have a tournament here at Port Pirie, it was here for 20 years and once the courts were upgraded we got it back on and Tennis Australia have given the full support of that as well,” Mr Sahb said. 

The Port Pirie Regional Council and Come See Change each contributed $5,000 to helping seeing the event return to the city.

Mayor Leon Stephens expressed his excitement to see the relaying economic benefits that the competition will bring. 

Especially considering that each player will bring an entourage with them who also require food and accommodation.

“This is super important for Port Pirie the economic spin from having all these tennis players here is just fantastic. This is what we really about the community spirit in country towns.

“The club has spent $110,000 in preparation for this but I think going forward, I have already asked the president if we can have it again,” Mayor Stephens said.

Players will be playing for $15,000 USD in prize money, with the winner receiving approximately $2,000 to $3,000.

Competition starts on Monday, February 11, with players arriving and starting to practice in the city from Saturday, February 9.

The women’s singles finals will be played from 11 am on Sunday February 17.