Top players hope to take to Te Anau court

Te Anau tennis tournament instigator Ian Willans presents Rubin Statham, of Auckland, with the Willans Trophy at the Distinction Hotels Te Anau Tennis Invitational last year. Photo: File

THE big names are back for Te Anau Tennis Invitational 2021 edition with two Olympic bronze medalists yet to confirm if they can make it.

The tournament, which has been running since 2012, is being held in Te Anau on December 28 and 29.

Te Anau Tennis president Greg Sheppard said Olympic bronze medallists Mike Venus and Marcus Daniell were yet to see if they could gain spots in managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) before they could commit to being at the tournament.

Venus played in last year’s tournament, losing to five-time invitational winner and New Zealand number-one ranked player Rubin Statham in the last game of the tournament.

Daniell has also played in previous invitationals, also coming second-place to Statham in finals matches.

Sheppard said eight players would take to the courts in the two-day event.

Unlike other tournaments, each player has three games of tennis.

“It’s a very unique draw,” Sheppard said.

“Usually at other tournaments, once they lose a game they’re finished.”

He said the timing of the tournament had been pivotal in being able to secure the big-name players.

“There’s not really much else going on at that time of year,” he said.

The event was normally held ahead of the ASB tournament, although the ASB would not be played next year.

Other players to feature at this year’s event would be Ajeet Rai (ranked second), Finn Tearney (fourth) and Oliver Statham (sixth).

While all court-side tables were sold out, spectators would be able to buy tickets at the gate on the days of play.

About 400 to 450 spectators were expected to watch each day’s tennis, Sheppard said.