WASHINGTON, May 26, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)
New Zealand is set to host the Southern Hemisphere’s first pro tennis event since the Covid-19 shutdown of the ATP, WTA and ITF tours in March.
Next month, the men’s New Zealand Premier League tournament in Auckland will showcase 24 players spread across three teams competing in a spectator-free environment over a period of three weeks. It is a collaboration between Tennis New Zealand and the Lavie Tennis Academy.
According to Tennis NZ high performance director Christophe Lambert, the tournament will begin on June 3 and matchup established ATP players against some of New Zealand’s rising talent.
“The NZ Premier League offers opportunities for our best players to have a home-base competitive environment,” Lambert said, quoted by AFP, “so they are ready to jump back in when the pro circuit starts again.”
Great Britain’s 77th-ranked Cameron Norrie, who grew up in New Zealand, and various New Zealand Davis Cup players such as Rubin Statham and Artem Sitak, plus Japanese Davis Cup player Ben McLachlan, from Queenstown, are among those who will participate.
All 112 matches scheduled will be played behind closed doors and are scheduled to be televised either on Sky Sport or online via the broadcaster’s YouTube channel.
Tennis NZ CEO Julie Paterson told Stuff.co.nz: “It’s great to creat playing opportunities for all New Zealand male players currently back in the country. We’ve been working on the concept for a while, thinking about how can we get our players back on court, back to their craft and find a way to generate a bit of revenue for them when they’re essentially not able to earn any income at the moment.”