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Two-time ATP title winner Steve Darcis has won the 16th Liverpool Hope International Tennis Tournament.

The Belgian beat Brit Marcus Willis 7-5 6-3 in glorious conditions at Liverpool Cricket club.

Willis, who incredibly made it to the the second round of Wimbledon last year having won two qualifying events, was playing in Liverpool for the first time.

He’s hoping to get a wildcard into the Wimbledon main draw in London next week.

The Women’s Singles final was won by Polona Hercog of Slovenia who beat the Italian Corrina Dentoni 6-2 6-4.

Organisers Northern Vision started their promotional period in May with tennis in Liverpool One shopping centre, followed by promotional events in Hooton, Exchange Flags,

Paradise Street, Williamson Square and St Georges Park in Southport.

During the promotional tour organisers reached out to thousands of people, encouraging them to try out free tennis lessons and telling them about the event,

On Kids Day, which traditionally launches the event proper, more than 750 schoolchildren were invited to attend and introduced to the game, in addition to getting the opportunity to watch the qualifying finals, won by Adam Jones of the Wirral.

During the International nearly 2,000 corporate guests were catered for and entertained from all over the North West – making the International one of the largest outdoor corporate events in the region.

This year the event attracted coverage from BBC Breakfast TV, four slots providing positive publicity for Liverpool and title sponsor Liverpool Hope University.

The programme was angled on the health benefits conducted by the University in which tennis is proved to be an optimum sport for body and mind.

This same study has been quoted worldwide.

While the nation indulges its fortnightly obsession with tennis, Liverpool has already promoted the sport superbly.

Damir Dzumhur continued his fine recent form and marked his first title triumph on grass as he saw off Paolo Lorenzi in the men’s singles final at the Liverpool Hope University Tennis Tournament yesterday.

The right-hander from Bosnia & Herzegovina, a finalist here 12 months ago, won 7-5, 4-6, 10-3 in the men’s showpiece clash at Liverpool Cricket Club.

Italian ace Lorenzi, the world number 48, took an early lead of 4-2 until Dzumhur made a strong comeback, edging the opening set 7-5.

His dominance then continued into the second set.

World number 89 Dzumhur led 2-1 before his opponent hit back to level at 3-3.

The Italian eventually took the stanza 6-4 setting the stage for a championship super tie-break with the first player to 10 points the winner.

Dzumhur took initial charge and did not look back until it was 6-0, when Lorenzi hit back to make it 6-3.

Sadly for him, though, that was as good as it would get as 24-year-old Dzumhur continued to hit the point-claiming strokes to take the tie-break and the title 10-3.

Speaking after picking up the silverware, a delighted Dzumhur, said: “I remember a lot of good matches, a lot of good fun and a lot of positive energy from last year’s tournament.

“That’s what brought me back this year and I’ll be back again next year.”

Lorenzi was added to the Liverpool International Tennis line-up just as the 34-year-old celebrated his highest ATP ranking. The Fiorentina fan broke into the world’s top 50 this month.

Lorenzi has enjoyed his best years on the circuit since turning 30.

READ: World Tennis stars love Liverpool International

He reached his first ATP World Tour final at the age of 32, at the 2014 Brasil Open, but is still trying to get past the first round at Wimbledon.

In 2014 he had the misfortune to face Swiss legend and 17-time grand slam winner Roger Federer in the first round, but he hopes that three days on intensive grass preparation on Merseyside can help him break his duck at SW19.

The ATP stars were joined yesterday on Centre Court by women’s finalists, world number 73, Wang Qiang from China and Norwegian teenager Melanie Stokke currently ranked 418 by the International Tennis Federation.

In the end, it was the higher-ranked Wang who won the title defeating her opponent over three superb sets 6-2, 4-6, 10-6.

The annual Liverpool Hope University International Tennis Tournament saw Aljaz Bedene win his first tournament since becoming a British citizen earlier this year.

The Slovenian-born 25-year-old, who is second only to Andy Murray in the UK rankings, was crowned champion on the final day of the tournament after winning a super tie break 13-11 against Paulo Andujar earlier in the week.

The tournament, which took a round robin format, saw Pablo Andujar and Aljaz Bedene tied with two wins and one loss. As a result, the new Brit was crowned champion.

Speaking after his victory, Bedene said: “I am very proud to be a winner at Liverpool Hope University International Tennis Tournament. It’s been a fantastic event and I am now feeling much more confident for Wimbledon.”

Tournament director Anders Borg said: “It was a great win from Aljaz in a very competitive tournament.”

This year’s event also featured Iranian superstar Mansour Bahrami, three time grand slam doubles champion Peter McNamara and five-time champion Anders Jarryd.

Meanwhile, the women’s final was played between Romanian Ana Bogdan and Elena Bogdan.

The duo battled it out in an intense match and portrayed smart rallies, often finalized by winning shots glued down the line or in opposite pocket of where the opponent was positioned.

Although both players are hard hitters and competitive opponents, they applauded happily each other’s performances.

The intense final was enjoyed by a full audience of spectators.

It was a close call in the second set, as Elena almost made it hers, after Ana won the first set 6-3. Ana managed though to keep fighting spirits up, eventually winning the tiebreak in the second set 7-5.

Final score was 6-3, 7-6 to Ana Bogdan.

Ana has reached a high in the singles world rankings of no. 304 as of 17 March 2014. She is of no apparent relation to Elena Bogdan – they were born six months apart.

Michael Russell struck a blow for the thirty-something generation at the Liverpool International. The 36-year-old American, a late addition to the line up, joined names like David Ferrer, Marat Safin and Xavier Malisse on the list of winners.

The women’s title, however, was lifted by a schoolgirl more than 20 years younger – 15-year-old Surrey protege Jodie Burrage. Both finals were watched by near full houses in fine weather as the 13th International tournament made a successful transition to its new venue of Liverpool Cricket Club.

At 36, one of the oldest players on the circuit, Russell defeated 16-year-old Russian Andrey Rublev – the current French Open junior champion – in Saturday’s men’s final before heading to Wimbledon where he faces a first round clash with Germany’s Julian Reister.

In a keenly contested match the final took almost two hours to decide.

Russell claimed the first set 6-4 before Rublev bounced back in the second set, taking Russell to a tie-break and winning 7-5.

A tie-break set was required to decide the destiny of the trophy and it was Russell who came out on top

Afterwards he tipped his young Russian opponent for future success on the ATP circuit.

“He has a massive forehand,” said Russell. “He is definitely a star for the future.

“Liverpool has been a fantastic place to play tennis, the crowds have been magnificent and I want to thank Liverpool Hope University, Liverpool City Council and Anders Borg (tournament director) for holding this incredible event.

“This is the way to increase involvement in the sport, giving kids the chance to see top stars, legends and future champions in action.”

Russell became the oldest winner of the event – while in the previous day’s Women’s final 15-year-old Jodie Burrage struck a blow for youth.

The Surrey schoolgirl added her name alongside tennis legends Martina Hingis, Caroline Wozniacki and last year’s champion Coco Vandeweghe with a 6-4 7-5 victory over British number five Tara Moore.

Story courtesy of Liverpool Echo

For the first time ever at a grass court tennis event, two Argentinians made the final in front of a great crowd in Calderstones Park. The final was won by Martin Alund beating fellow countryman Guido Pella 7-6 6-3.Liverpool International Tennis Tournament 2013

The finalists were made up of the round robin winners, while Coco Vandeweghe (USA) and Alexandra Cadantu (ROM) contested the women’s final.

Alexandra had been struggling with fever all tournament but put up a great fight against Vandeweghe who eventually won 6-2, 6-2. The Skupski Brothers were introduced as a duo, beating in doubles the Argentinian pair Pella/Alund.

Winners: Martin Alund bt Guido Pella 7-6 6-3 Coco Vandeweghe bt Alexandra Cadantu 6-2 6-2

KEVIN ANDERSON won a rain interrupted Liverpool International at Calderstones Park – before heading to Wimbledon and a potential third round meeting with Andy Murray.

The giant South African claimed the final seeded place at SW19, which means if he can overcome a first round clash with his Queen’s conqueror Grigor Dimitrov, then a probable meeting with the even taller Ivo Karlovic, he would face Murray for a place in the last 16.

And Anderson’s confidence will be soaring after raising the silver trophy in L18 on Saturday.

The 6ft8in South African number one beat Slovakia’s Lukas Lacko in a three-set match which went to a tie break in the third set.

Anderson, who currently has a world ranking of 30, triumphed 6-3, 1-6, 10-7. He said: “I am delighted to have won the Liverpool International title. It’s been a great event, a great warm-up for Wimbledon next week, and I’ve really enjoyed myself here.”

Tournament organiser Anders Borg added: “Huge congratulations to Anderson on picking up this year’s men’s title, as well as to Bencic who won the women’s title yesterday.

“Despite difficult weather conditions, there’s been some excellent play and both Kevin Anderson and Belinda Bencic will definitely be ones to watch now as they go on to compete at Wimbledon and in the London 2012 Olympic Games in a few weeks’ time.”

Swiss star Bencic won the women’s title – indoors at the David Lloyd Centre with rain washing out any Calderstones Park play on Friday – by beating Sacha Vickery 10-7.

Greg Rusedski won the Legends title against former Wimbldon winner Richard Krajicek.

THE man nicknamed Hands of Stone got his hands on some silverwTennis – Liverpool International Tennis Tournament 2011 – Day Three – Martina Hingis (SUI) v Chloe Murphy (GBR)are at Calderstones Park on Saturday. And Fernando Gonzalez enjoyed the experience so much he has vowed to return to the Liverpool International Tennis Tournament.

The Chilean known as Manos A Piedre (Stone hands) because of the ferocity of his forehand pounded Portugal’s Frederico Gil into submission in the tournament final to lift the silver trophy at the first attempt. Gonzalez triumphed 6-1 7-6 (10-8) and declared afterwards: “I have had a great week in Liverpool. I think this tournament is amazing. The fact it is in a park is truly unique. I will be returning!”

The Chilean, a popular winner, now moves on to Wimbledon where he faces number 22 seed Alexandr Dolgopolov in the first round. Gonzalez will be hoping to emulate his best ever Wimbledon showing of 2005 when he reached the quarter-finals, leaning on the confidence gleaned from three days playing on the Calderstones Park grass.

In a fairy tale ladies final match-up, Martina Hingis – no stranger to lifting trophies with nine Grand Slam victories to her name – overcame local girl Chloe Murphy.

Murphy, who reached the final by beating last year’s defending champion Eugenie Bouchard, started well.

But Hingis’ class shone through as he won the Pro Set format 8-2. Afterwards Chloe declared: “It was a great experience. I loved every minute of it and will treasure it forever.” The 18 year old Liverpool girl has played at the Liverpool tournament for the past five years and has been fortunate enough to play against some of the WTA’s finest players including, current number 1, Caroline Wozniacki.

Tournament Director, Anders Borg said: “I started this event to give people like Chloe a stage to show their talent and the opportunity to play against professionals on the circuit. What makes today even better for me is that a Liverpool girl has made to the final of the 10th Liverpool International and she is coached by one of our performance academy coaches! As far as I’m concerned – it doesn’t get better than that!”

Anthony Hardman, her coach of 10 years and Head Performance Coach of Northern Vision’s Academies, added: “I have been Chloe’s coach for 10 years, what she has done this week is amazing and will be a great send off for her before she goes off to the states on Collegiate Scholarship at Texas Tech.

“Bouchard is the Number 8 Junior in the world and for Chloe to beat her is amazing.” With the ATP players heading to Wimbledon on Saturday night ahead of today’s All England Championships, the legends lit up the courts yesterday with a series of sparkling exhibitions.

The two Martinas, Navratilova and Hingis, squared up in a singles match, followed by a doubles exhibition featuring Mikael Pernfors, Greg Rusedski, Barry Cowan and the one and only Mansour Bahrami.

Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu became the 2010 men’s champion beating Chilean Nicolas Massu 6-3 6-2 in the final, while Canada’s 16-year-old starlet Eugenie Bouchard was crowned women’s champion after a 6-3 6-3 success over Norwegian Ulrikke Eikeri. Two new names were inscribed on the Liverpool International singles trophies on Saturday.

Earlier in the week Chile’s Massu had spoken of his dislike for grass, and Mathieu took advantage with another impressive performance.

Both men had been undefeated in singles matches all week, but the Frenchman always looked more at ease on the Calderstones Park turf.

He broke in the eighth game to take a 5-3 lead and serve out for the first set.

The Frenchman’s variety of shot and movement kept him on top in the second set as Massu’s first experience of grass for three years proved a frustrating one.

Mathieu continued to dominate on serve, winning cheap points and preventing his opponent from developing any rhythm in the rallies.

He threatened to break in the third game of the second set, but Massu held on, determined to maintain an unbeaten head-to-head record against the Frenchman.

But the 28-year-old wasn’t to be denied and broke Massu twice more to serve for the match at 5-2 – holding comprehensively to love.

“I think we had a great match today,” Mathieu sportingly suggested afterwards. “I think we played some good points so I’m really happy.

“The event is great. I didn’t see much of the city as it’s my first time in Liverpool, but maybe I’ll come back to see the nightlife for a few days!”

Massu, however, admitted that he struggled to adapt to the grass.

“Mathieu played really well, I think the last time I played on a grass court was in 2007, I like it but I need to practice more to know how to play here,” he said. “I want to say thank you, it’s my first time here, this exhibition had a lot of people here, the crowd today was full, we had a good time and hopefully I can come back. I like to play in England so see you soon!”

In the women’s final Canadian junior Bouchard was a level above Ulrikke Eikeri

The Norwegian had only just scraped through to the final on games won throughout the tournament.

Her +5 record for games won edged out Romania’s Ana Bogdan and Liverpool’s Amy Askew.

Bouchard came into the final full of confidence having beaten Eikeri the night before and in the final of the ITF Junior Uruguay Bowl tournament in March and broke in the very first game of the match.

She threatened to go 3-0 ahead but for an impressive fightback from Eikeri to hold serve.

The Norwegian 17-year-old built on that resistance with a break in the next game, levelling the match at 2-2 and showing that she could live with the power of the 16-year-old.

However, Bouchard’s consistency from the back of the court made all the difference, breaking twice more to take the first set 6-3.

The second set was a closer affair, with Eikeri settling into her service games and making it 3-3. But the Norwegian’s game deserted her when it mattered most, as Bouchard broke at the third attempt to take a 5-3 lead and serve for the match.

Bouchard, who won the Girl’s Singles Championship at the Pan-American Closed ITF event last year, showed her class once again, surviving a late fight back to hold serve and become women’s champion for 2010.

“I’m really excited; me and my coach left the players dinner early last night so I could get sleep and we could prepare for today,” said Bouchard.

“It’s been a long career. I’ve played tennis for 11 years already, train most days of the week and I’m travelling a lot. But I really enjoy it and it’s worth it.”

Meanwhile, Eikeri remained as gracious as ever in defeat.

“It was a good match but she played a little too good for me today,” she said. “It’s hard, she takes the ball early and has a lot of power. She played great.”

Bouchard joins a prestigious list of players to have won the title in Liverpool. The 2008 champion, Caroline Wozniacki, is now ranked number three in the world and last year’s winner, Michelle Larcher de Brito, is up against Serena Williams in the first round of Wimbledon today.

After making headlines for the power of her tonsils all week, de Brito showed that the strength of her tennis was even stronger as she overcame Britain’s Laura Robson in a Super Tie-Break 10-6, after they had shared two sets 6-4, 2-6 at Calderstones Park on Saturday. PORTUGUESE teenager Michelle Larcher de Brito and experienced American Mardy Fish have been crowned the new Tradition ICAP Liverpool International Champions.

In the men’s final Fish beat Vince Spadea in straight sets 6-4, 6-2, to leave his 34-year-old opponent wondering if he will ever get his hands on the coveted Boodles’ Trophy.

Spadea was competing in his third Liverpool final, but his compatriot Fish was too strong, taking the opening set 6-4.

There was no sign of a fightback from Spadea as he collapsed in the second set. Trailing 5-2 and with rain beginning to fall, referee Alan Mills looked like being Spadea’s only hope, but Fish was quick enough to serve out his game and win the match.

The women’s match was more evenly balanced.

Michelle Larcher De Brito won the opening set 6-4, but not without both girls breaking each others serves in the opening three games.

Robson came back to win the second set 6-2, but a slip stretching for a forehand shot left the 15-year-old requiring treatment from her fitness coach Floris Minnaert.

It was a worrying moment, with Robson’s Wimbledon debut just 48 hours away, but Laura recovered well enough to take the second set and force a super tie-break third set.

The tie-break didn’t start well for Laura and she soon found herself 8-1 down.

But two service points and a break later, the British fans cheering Laura on thought a dramatic comeback was on the cards, but at match point Laura double faulted and Larcher De Brito was the new Liverpool International Women’s Champion.

Both girls will now travel to London for Wimbledon to compete in the senior women’s draw having each been handed a wild-card.

They are in the same side of the draw, with Michelle facing the Czech qialifier Klara Zakopalova while Robson comes up against Slovakia’s young star Daniela Hantuchova.

After the serious business was completed on Saturday, it was fun day yesterday with Michael Stich collecting the Legends Trophy.

Following his victory over Anders Jarryd, the eccentric antics of Romanian ringmaster, Ilie Nastase and the magical maverick Mansour Bahrami lit up Centre Court – with able assistance from Peter McNamara and Mikael Perrnfors.

The event was now firmly established in the public consciousness – and wider afield on the worldwide tennis circuit – as underlined by the nations represented in the finals.

Dane Caroline Wozniacki returned for a third successive year – and became ladies champion for the second time beating an American in the final – while USA’s Amer Delic won the men’s crown in a thrilling final against a Chilean.

Afterwards Wozniacki declared: “I’d love to come back again. It’s been a different experience for me in each of the three years I’ve played here. But the tournament is definitely better now.”

Winners: Amer Delic bt Paul Capdeville 6-7 6-4 (10-7)

Caroline Wozniacki bt Ashley Harkelroad 4-6 6-4 (10-5)

by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo

IF CAROLINE Wozniacki was looking for omens going into the biggest event of the season, she will be forgiven for thinking that history is going to repeat itself.

When she first won the women’s Liverpool International in 2006, beating Ashley Harkleroad in a third set super tie-break, a fortnight later Wozniacki lifted the Wimbledon Junior title.

Fast forward to the present and the Danish teenager will head to SW19 on the back of an almost identical preparation after again lowering Harkleroad’s colours at Calderstones Park, 4-6, 6-4, 10-5.

First things first, though, Wozniacki has a date in Eastbourne to attend but some astute judges are tipping her to be the dark horse at Wimbledon and she hopes to prove them right.

“I’d love to think I could win the main event,” she said. “If it’s possible, you never know what might happen. We’ll just have to see how it turns out.

“I’ve just got to think about the draw, hope for a bit of luck and then maybe things can go my way. I’m just going to go there and try my best.”

She certainly needed her ‘A’ game yesterday as having lost the first set, Wozniacki found herself 3-4 down in the second and Harkleroad looked certain to retain her title.

However, Wozniacki went through the gears to such effect that Harkleroad had no answer when she reeled off four consecutive games and was a spent force in the decider.

Perhaps, though, such a close contest was inevitable.

This, after all, was the third time that the two have met in the final at Calderstones and both have similarly powerful styles.

“Every year it has gone to a super tie-break in the third set,” Wozniacki reflected. “Ashley played really well and I’m just happy that I pulled it through.

“It’s good preparation for what lies ahead. I feel ready for the big challenges and I’m getting used to being on a grass surface again.

“I had only been broken once in the tournament, so it was a surprise that Ashley did it to me three times. I thought when she went 4-3 up in the second that she would win it.

“I knew if I didn’t break her straight away that it would be really difficult but I was pleased with how things turned around when I started playing faster.”

A lot, of course, can happen in a year but it would not be a surprise if a fourth instalment takes places next June, as – like so many of her colleagues – Wozniacki is a huge fan of the event.

“I’d love to come back again,” she declared without hesitation. “It’s been a different experience for me in each of the three years I’ve played here. But the tournament is definitely better now.”

By Ian Hargraves, Liverpool Daily Post

An excellent Calderstones tennis tournament reached a fitting climax yesterday when Belgium’s top seeded Xavier Malisse beat Vin Spadea of the United Stated in the final of the men’s singles.

Malisse, who is ranked No 41 in the world, naturally started as slight favourite, but the highly experienced Spadea was always going to give him a fight.

The weather was far worse than the rest of the week, and postponed the start of the final for two hours and led to half an hour’s stoppage at a key moment in the second set.

At that moment, Malisse had just managed to click into his best form, after a poor start had cost him the first set 6-3. When play resumed, he succeeded in winning the second set 7-5.

It triggered off a final set super tie break that produced arguably the best tennis of the whole tournament and the Belgian won 14-12.

In Saturday’s semi-finals, Malisse beat Liverpool’s Ken Skupski by 6-4 6-1. Skupski, and most of the crowd, were naturally disappointed by his defeat, but he played pretty well against a man who reached the Wimbledon semi-finals.

Overall, the tournament has been a great success and the junior match between children in three age groups from Liverpool and Oslo attracted a lot of attention, as the Liverpudlians won by 31-21, Chloe Murphy winning all her five singles and doubles matches.

The introduction of a women’s event has been far and away the most important feature, especially because it was won by such a superb up-and-coming personality as 15-year-old Caroline Wozniacki.

By Denise Morris.

The Liverpool International 2005 had lots of extras – our 2004 champion Ivan Ljubicic returned, our wonderful legends returned to entrance us once again but this time we had added bonuses in the form of Woman’s legend Martina Navratilova and that Australian personality and former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash.

The weather was kind in part – beautiful sunshine, a few fluffy white clouds – perfect tennis weather until finals day which dawned grey and damp but didn’t dampen the sell out crowds’ enthusiasm for a day of great tennis.

Adding to those two famous names were the wonderful legends Bahrami, Leconte, Nastase and McNamara, our very own Liverpool Ambassador Barry Cowan and upcoming Liverpudlian Ken Skupski as well as our ATP players Ivan Ljubicic, Mikhail Youzhny, Paul Goldstein, Novak Djokovic ( a rising star at 18 in his first time on grass), Jan-Michael Gambill, Bobby Reynolds,Robert Kendrick and Norwegians Jan-Frode Andersen and Stian Boretti.

During her time in Liverpool Tennis legend Martina Navratilova got her hands on some new silverware – the Champions League trophy at Anfield.The nine-time Wimbledon singles champion visited the Reds Museum during her short time in Liverpool.

Martina is an amazing ambassador for tennis, always being ready to give advice to the youngsters.On completion of her last match she was treated to thunderous applause and in an emotional speech she thanked Tournament Director Anders Borg for inviting her and hoped that she would be back again. As she said as long as she enjoys playing tennis she will continue. An amazing example to us all.

This year we supported 2 charities in The Marina Daglish Breast Cancer Fund and the Dan Maskell Tennis Trust and the grand sum of £12,000 was raised for these charities over the 5 days.

The semi finals were a multinational affair. The first was a match up of two youngsters. Up & Coming star on his first senior ATP year 18 year old Novak Djokovic of Serbia and Montenegro versus 23 old Mikhail Youzhny of Russia. Mikhail(Misha) was the victor in an interesting match.

The second semi final was between the defending champion of 2004 Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia and Paul Goldstein of USA. and Ivan wasthe victor – through to defend his title.

And so to the 2005 Final of the ATP Singles. Unfortunately the weather tried its best to upset the great occasion but thankfully stayed dry though windy and overcast. The packed crowd were entertained to an enthralling match of three tightly contested sets before finally after 2 1/2 hours Ivan Ljubicic retained his title and became the 2005 champion. Sky Sports were there to record the match as well. As Ivan said afterwards it was the first time he had had the chance to defend a title and it meant a lot to him to actually win it.

A great spectacle of tennis and getting bigger and better every year.

By Denise Morris.

Back to Calderstones Park for the 9th to 13th June 2004 and the sun shine.

Heading the list of ATP players were Ivan Ljubicic, Vince Spadea, Irakli Labadze (nicknamed the “Georgian Goran” by the local press), Robert Kendrick, Ramon Delgado, Paul Goldstein, Jan-Frode Andersen, Frederik Sletting, Barry Cowan and local hero Ken Skupski on a return from College in the States and a local qualifier.

As an added extra this year had former Wimbledon champion Richard Krajicek playing exhibition matches as well as the TradIndex sponsored Legends series featuring the amazing Mansour Bahrami, Ilie Nastase, Peter McNamara and Guillermo Vilas. And to top it all Sam Smith came up to play some great mixed doubles matches.

So the programme had grown and the tennis was phenomenal with lots of action for all to enjoy. Scintillating tennis from the ATP players, side splitting laughter and amazement watching the “Legends” to keep us all entertained as well as the fact of seeing a former champion in front of us playing a match against Liverpool’s own Ken Skupski.

The weather was kind for most of the days apart from the Friday – seems to be something about Fridays – and the tennis went to schedule.

Sunday saw a dream final between Ivan Ljubicic and Irakli Labadze – the two crowd favourites and fittingly won by Ivan Ljubicic. Both players were pleased to have been in Liverpool and took time after the presentations to circle the court with their trophies, allowing the spectators to snap their own personal photos. The Mayor of Liverpool was justifiably proud of the tournament adding to Liverpool’s prestige as “Culture Capital 08”.

And then the final of the Legends series – and the fun of seeing Mansour Bahrami circling the court on his bicycle.

So many happy memories of a wonderful tournament and we look forward to even bigger and better times in 2005.

By Denise Morris

Everything was against it even happening this year! The ATP did its best to try and scupper the whole tournament and in fact Tournament Director Anders Borg even announced the cancellation of it in March. But the media rallied around to our cause and so we held a mini tournament to keep the interest alive. This years tournament was held indoors at the Wavertree Tennis Centre from Friday 13th to Sunday 15th June.

Last year’s beaten finalist Jan-Michael Gambill returned to Liverpool as well as American up-and-coming stars Alex Kim and Robert Kendrick. Graydon Oliver, primarily known as as doubles player stepped in at the last moment for Vincent Spadea and he proved that we had all under estimated him. Not a bad singles player after all.

Qualifying rounds were held on the two days prior to the tournament and Luke Campbell proved to be the winner where he joined local hero Ken Skupski who had recently returned from a stint at a tennis college in the United States.

Some exciting matches were played and caused a lot of excitement. Robert Kendrick broke a few young girls hearts and of course there were the those who spent their time gazing adoringly at Jan-Michael Gambill whose nickname is not “Hollywood” for nothing!

The sun shone out of cloudless blue skies and it was a pity we were indoors! The final was between Jan-Michael Gambill and Alex Kim and Jan-Mike made sure this year he got to lift the trophy as the winner! Then he teamed up with Graydon Oliver to take the doubles title beating local heroes Anthony Hardman and Ken Skupski.

The Mayor was thrilled and promised the tournament would continue as it was vital to Liverpool even more so now as the newly elected British entrant in the European City of Culture.

Tournament Director Anders Borg promised that the Tournament would be back in 2004 in Calderstones Park and in the sunshine!

The Liverpool International was launched with a fanfare of publicity in 2002 – and the presence of the then world number one and former US Open champion, Marat Safin

Local sports fans loved the idea and flocked to Calderstones Park . . . where Safin underlined his world number one ranking by lifting the inaugural trophy.

Winner: Marat Safin bt Jan-Michael Gambill 6-7 7-6 6-4

13-15 June 2024