Sunderland to host National Premier Tennis League finals.

Great Britain's Dan Evans

Great Britain's Dan Evans

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SUNDERLAND is set to host the prestigious National Premier Tennis League finals.

The matches will take place in March next year, with players from all over the country heading to the city.

British No. 2 Dan Evans, 23, who reached the third round of the US Open this year, is the first big-name player confirmed to be competing.

The men’s doubles event will see teams of top competitors taking part in matches at Sunderland Tennis Centre.

A host of other events will also take place, including a gala dinner and players undertaking grass-roots activities in the city.

The competition has been staged on Wearside for several years, but organiser Mike Dixon is hoping to make next year’s event bigger and better.

He said: “This is a great coup for Sunderland and puts a lot of sporting attention on the area.

“Our aim over the next three years is to grow the competition to incorporate as many centres and commercial clubs in the UK as possible.”

Some major sponsors are already on board, including Sunderland City Council, the University of Sunderland, Sunderland College, Dunlop Sports, A1 Pharmaceuticals PLC and Advanced Vehicle Leasing.

Because of the tournament’s increasing popularity, there are hopes that some of the games will be televised. Mr Dixon added: “Tennis is a sport that inspires and rewards excellence at all levels, and this is what this competition is about.

“The primary aim of the league is to provide top-level competitive tennis in the winter period nationally, and to give teams the opportunity of competing at the national finals against world ranked players.

“We really hope businesses across the region will get behind this incredible event and give it their support.

“If we develop a Davis Cup partnership for the future through this competition, then we will have succeeded.”

The event starts on Wednesday, March 26, with a gala dinner at the Stadium of Light and runs until Sunday, March 30.