Finals delight

Virgin Active tennis players, Ainsley Kershaw and Sean Galpin help to launch the National Premier Tennis League Finals with Jo Cunliffe from the lawn Tennis Association, Event organiser, Mike Dixon and Head of Events at Sunderland City Council, Chris Alexander.
Virgin Active tennis players, Ainsley Kershaw and Sean Galpin help to launch the National Premier Tennis League Finals with Jo Cunliffe from the lawn Tennis Association, Event organiser, Mike Dixon and Head of Events at Sunderland City Council, Chris Alexander.
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THE CLIMAX of the domestic indoor tennis season will unfold in Sunderland for the second successive year next month, writes CHRIS YOUNG.

Doxford Park’s Virgin Active Health and Racket Club, together with Silksworth Tennis Centre, will play host to the National Premier Tennis League finals, where men’s doubles teams compete between April 11 and 14.

Fourteen clubs, including hosts Virgin Active and fellow North East representatives South Northumberland, will face each other the four-day knock-out competition.

And after the participants have spent the past five months attempting to qualify for the show-piece, tournament director Mike Dixon is looking to another intense finale after Sunderland played host to the event last year.

“This is a great opportunity to capitalise on last year’s successful finals,” he said. “It’s a bit like Twenty20 cricket with each club in their own colourful strip and with it being straight knock-out, it brings a lot of excitement.”

Sunderland Council’s head of events, Chris Alexander, added: “We are delighted that some of the country’s finest players will be coming back to the city.”

The competition has been running since 1999, with previous participants including former Wimbledon mixed doubles champion Jamie Murray.

The country’s top clubs have all been involved, including last year’s champions Virgin Active Warwickshire, where four of Britain’s top 10 men’s players train.

After hundreds of spectators watched the event last year, the Lawn Tennis Association’s Jo Cunliffe hopes it can again serve as a motivational sight for youngsters.

“I have played this game since I was five and the benefits of it are incredible,” she said. “Events like this should be applauded because it’s fantastic to see events like this on your own doorstep. Hopefully they can inspire a generation to come.”

Tickets can be purchased by contacting Mike Dixon, on mdixontennis@btinternet.com or 07870 778490 or through the front desk at Virgin Active on (0191) 5114400.