Some of the brightest young hopes for the future of international tennis will be competing in Sunderland this weekend.

The Tennis Winter Cup will kick off today (8th February) at Silksworth Community Pool, Tennis and Wellness Centre and will continue until Sunday afternoon (10th February).

The Tennis Winter Cup – sponsored by the sports manufacturer Head – has in the past featured up-and-coming youngsters such as Andy Murray, Rafa Nadal, Roger Federer, Laura Robson and Victoria Azarenka.

The tournament has, since its launch in 1977, come to be considered the world’s most important indoor team junior tennis contest.

The section of the tournament hosted in Sunderland will be the under-12 girls’ competition. It will be the fifth time the tournament has been held at the Silksworth Community Pool, Tennis and Wellness Centre.

The teams competing will be Great Britain, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Romania, Russia, France, Slovakia and Ukraine.

Representatives from the tennis associations of each country – along with the players and staff – will participate in an opening ceremony, which will be led by the mayor of Sunderland Cllr Linda Scanlan.

During the ceremony – which will take place at 9.30 am on Friday 8th February – each team will be led out into the main sports hall by pupils from Thorney Close Primary School. Each team will be welcomed by its national anthem and the flags of all the countries will be displayed throughout the tournament.

The competitors will receive a civic welcome from the mayor, local ward councillors and community sports partners.

On Sunday afternoon (10th February), the winners will be crowned European Champions and there will be a brief closing ceremony.

Play will begin each day at around 9.30 am and finish at around 3.00 pm. The event is free for spectators and no booking is required. Car parking is also free.

Cllr Scanlan said, “I am proud to welcome this prestigious competition back to our city. This is one of the most important tournaments in international tennis and the event has produced some of the world’s greatest players over the years.”

“It’s testament to Sunderland’s proven ability to successfully stage high-profile sporting and cultural events, and I’m sure we’ll see some future superstars competing at Silksworth Community Pool, Tennis and Wellness Centre over the course of the competition.”

Sunderland City Council’s head of events, Victoria French, said, “It’s fantastic for the city and the region that the 2019 Finals are being held in Sunderland, with our partners at Everyone Active managing this fantastic tennis facility on behalf of the City Council.”

“Our city has a proud history of delivering world-class international tennis events, and I am sure that all the teams competing will have a great experience during their stay with us and spectators will enjoy watching some amazing matches between potential superstars.”

“I hope seeing the tennis superstars of the future in action at the Tennis Centre will encourage more young people to try out the excellent facilities and tennis coaching sessions available in Sunderland, and provide a sporting legacy for future generations.”

(Featured image courtesy of Brenda, from Flickr Creative Commons.)

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