Tennis stars hit Silksworth

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PROFESSIONAL tennis returns to Sunderland this weekend with British number two Johanna Konta leading the queue of rising stars heading to Wearside hoping to improve their rankings.

Konta is up to 112 in the international rankings and will face competition from British number four Tara Moore and British number seven Jade Windley, who used to train in Sunderland.

They will be among the competitors in the Aegon GB Pro-Series Sunderland - an ITF Pro Circuit Women’s $25k event at the Sunderland Tennis Centre while a Men’s $10k event is also being held at the same venue.

The tournament runs from this Sunday, until next Sunday, January 26.

With the Women’s draw being a higher ranking event, the line-up is particularly strong with the top seven players all ranked inside the world’s top 200, with several just returned from competing in the Australian Open.

Former world junior number one, An-Sophie Mestach is one of those coming back from Down Under, as is Stephanie Vogt, who reached a junior world ranking of five in 2008.

The highest ranked player in the Men’s event is British number four Dan Cox, currently ranked 250, while two-title winner in 2013 Dan Smethurst will be looking to continue his good form.

All the ties, men and women’s, will all be contested at the Sunderland Tennis Centre. Entry is free for spectators.