ANYONE for tennis – at a county cricket ground?
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What on earth were the Liverpool International organisers thinking when they made the switch back in 2013?
On closer inspection the switch from the much loved Calderstones Park made perfect sense.
Edvent organisers were relocating to a historic sporting venue, closer to the city centre, with better transport links – and a long established tradition for staging top class tennis.
Leading tennis stars have played at Liverpool Cricket Club ever since 1884 .
The legendary Lottie Dod, five times Wimbledon champion in the 1880s, played here regularly.
While almost 80 years later Lew Hoad paraded his skills in front of the pavilion – against the man he beat in a Wimbledon final, Ken Rosewall.
A History of Liverpool Cricket Club recorded:
The game of Lawn tennis has long been favoured by certain members of the club and it has had a major influence on the development of sport in Liverpool.
Aigburth soon became the centre for the sport in Liverpool.
The Northern Lawn Tennis Tournament was played bi-annually on the ground from 1884 onwards. This arrangement was shared with the Northern tennis Club of Didsbury in Manchester.
The first contest at Aigburth was played on June 14th 1884 and it featured many of the leading players of the day from both sides of the Atlantic.
Several courts were marked out on the cricket field with the finals being played in front of the Pavilion.
The Ladies Singles was won by Miss Edith Davies (Claydon) who received prize money of 10 guineas. She also became the holder of the Ladies Silver Challenge Trophy valued at 20 guineas which was donated by Liverpool Cricket Club.
Mr J B Ismay of the Waterloo Club won the Men’s Singles final while Mr Donald Stewart (West Middlesex) won the Gentleman’s open Final.
The 1884 men’s champion was the Bruce Ismay of Titanic infamy.
But plenty more famous names appeared at Liverpool Cricket Club with tennis rackets in their hands.
In the 1970s the Kramer Professional Circus visited the Aigburth ground on several occasions and many famous players were seen on the ground.
Amongst them were such household names as Lew Hoad, Ken Rosewall and Pancho Gonzalez.
With Marion Bartoli, Virginia Wade and Greg Rusedski in action this week, Liverpool Cricket Club’s tennis heritage has come full circle.
The Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, said:
The Liverpool Hope International Tennis Tournament is a fantastic event for the city.
The event not only sees people returning to the city year on year, but is succeeding in attracting new crowds and aficionados of the sport.
Liverpool’s sporting history is rich and diverse, and despite being home to two Premier League teams, it’s fantastic to be recognised for something other than football.
Tournament Director and organiser Anders Borg from Northern Vision added: “Thanks to support from our sponsors, in particular our long term Title sponsor Liverpool Hope University , this year’s tournament is set to be bigger and better than ever!