Marcus Willis was the toast of Merseyside last summer.
The Brit became the story of last year’s Wimbledon when he beat Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis to earn a Centre Court showdown with Roger Federer – then refused a £15,000 windfall from The Sun newspaper because he is a Liverpool FC fan.
That newspaper is reviled throughout Merseyside – by Everton and Liverpool fans alike – and Mersey sports fans will get their chance to pay tribute to Willis when he appears at the Liverpool Hope International Tennis Tournament at Liverpool Cricket Club from 15th to 18th June.
Liverpool Hope International Tournament director Anders Borg says:
“Marcus is a fantastic person and a great player in particular on grass and we very much look forward to have him in Liverpool. I am sure we will organise a trip to Anfield for him during his stay in the city.
Willis was a world number 772 who had earned just £220 in prize money in 2016 when The Sun tried to cash in on his popularity.
Marcus, a lifelong Liverpool fan, said: “This is my first year competing in Liverpool but after my dream run at Wimbledon last year I believe Liverpool is the perfect place to kick off my 2017 grass court season. I have heard nothing but great things about the organisation and the way Anders runs things and I am very excited as a Liverpool fan to make my professional debut in Liverpool in front of world class sporting fans.”
The Liverpool Hope International tennis Tournament is in its 16th year and has grown into the longest running and largest tennis exhibition in Europe – featuring ATP and WTA players warming up for Wimbledon in addition to the ever popular legends of tennis. Liverpool Hope University has been the headline sponsor for 4 years and Professor Mehmet Dorak, Head of the School of Health Sciences at Liverpool Hope University said:
“We are excited to be title sponsors of the Liverpool International Tennis Tournament in what is a seminal year for Sports and Health Sciences at Liverpool Hope University.
“We have completed our new £14.47 million Sports and Health Science building, which brings both disciplines under one roof and offers our students and researchers easy access to top facilities.
“We are also home to an NHS-approved clinical trial into ‘Exercise, Nutrition and Ageing’, and the UK’s largest ‘Tennis, Ageing, and Health’ study. Our tennis study has been shortlisted for an award by the European College of Sport Science, the largest Sport and Exercise Science Congress in Europe.
“This summer we will be announcing some initial findings from the tennis study, which we hope will begin to quantify the long-term benefits of playing the sport.
“It is an exciting time for Sports and Health Sciences at Liverpool Hope.”
Also playing in this year’s International will be last year’s winner, Damir Dzumhur, who has had a great year on the circuit having beaten players like Stan Wawrinka and Rafael Nadal.
Anders Borg added: “Damir is an incredibly talented player and has proven on his day he can beat anyone.”
“Damir has developed a great relationship with Liverpool and is very pleased to prepare for the grass court season in the North West.”
“I have loved coming to play in Liverpool the past few years. I have had a lot of fun and have been able to get great time on the grass ahead of Wimbledon.
The organisation is first class and the crowd are so knowledgeable and fun to play in front of. I am looking forward to returning in 2017.
Former Liverpool Champion Ana Bogdan leads the women’s field in addition to up and coming Natalya Vikhlyantseva who is only 19 and already ranked 75 in the world. According to experts she a very exciting future ahead of her.
The legends field is led by former world number 8 Guillermo Cañas of Argentina and former Liverpool finalist Robert Kendrick of USA.
Jamie Burdekin Bronze medalist Rio Olympics wheelchair tennis , MD Gary Millar , MD Bill Addy, Councilor Kennedy, Ian Snodin Everton FC Legend
Royal Liverpool Hospital, The Clatterbridge Cancer Center, Leadership Through Sport.
The event has collected more than 250,000 pounds towards local charities over the years.
The Liverpool Hope International tennis Tournament was established in 2002 and has over the years attracted a lot of talented players preparing for Wimbledon in Liverpool. The event has had players like Novak Djokovic, David Ferrer, Marat Safin, Caroline Wozniacki in addition to legends like John McEnroe, Goran Ivanisevic, Martina Hingis and Martina Navratilova all preferring Liverpool to other cities in the UK and Europe to get ready for the grass court season.