A TENNIS tournament that helped set the likes of Laura Robson and Victoria Azarenka on the road to stardom was launched in Sunderland today.
Europe’s finest young female tennis players (under-12s) are competing in the continental finals of their category in the 2015 Tennis Winter Cups, being held at Sunderland Tennis Centre.
The three-day event sees teams from Great Britain, Ukraine, Italy, France, Czech Rep, Hungary, Russia and Belarus compete to be crowned champions at the end of the event on Sunday.
At the opening ceremony, each team was led out into the main sports hall by pupils from Ryhope Junior School to be welcomed by their national anthems
They received a civic welcome from the Mayor of Sunderland, Councillor Stuart Porthouse, who was joined by the Deputy Mayor, Coun Barry Curran, ward councillors and community partners.
The Mayor of Sunderland, Coun Stuart Porthouse said: “Make no mistake, this is one of the most important and prestigious tournaments in international tennis, and I am proud and delighted as Mayor to welcome it to our city.
“This event has produced some of the world’s greatest players over the years, and I’m sure that we’ll see some future superstars competing at Sunderland Tennis Centre during the Tennis Winter Cup 2015. The fact that our tournament partners Tennis Europe, Lawn Tennis Association and international sponsors Head have chosen us to host this fantastic event is testament to Sunderland’s proven ability to successfully stage high profile sporting and cultural events.”
Since it was launched in 1977 the annual Tennis Winter Cup, sponsored by Head, has developed and grown to become the sport’s most important indoor junior team tennis competition.