Top British tennis players at Felixstowe

TWO of Britain's fastest emerging tennis prospects will take to the courts of Felixstowe next week for the Gotelee & Goldsmith East of England International Championships.

Stuart Watson

TWO of Britain's fastest emerging tennis prospects will take to the courts of Felixstowe next week for the Gotelee & Goldsmith East of England International Championships.

Naomi Cavaday, who is already British No.5 in her first full year as a senior, has reached 197 in the world this year. The 19-year-old took on Venus Williams in the first round of Wimbledon last week and, despite defeat, valiantly took the reigning champion to a tie-break in the first set.

Chris Eaton also caused a stir at Wimbledon last week by becoming the lowest-ranked player to win a match at the competition in more than a decade. The 20-year-old, who is ranked at 661 in the world, beat Boris Pashanski, the world No.114 from Serbia, to spark jubilant first round scenes on Court Three.

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Next week, Cavaday and Eaton will swap SW19 and Wimbledon for Felixstowe and the East of England Championships.

The Championships, now in their 112th year, traditionally follow Wimbledon and attract players from all over the globe.

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A key fixture on the ATP Challengers Circuit, the East of England International Championships are renowned for attracting some of the world's brightest emerging talents.

In the past, a young Tim Henman, Andy Murray and Amélie Mauresmo have used Felixstowe as an opportunity to earn valuable world ranking points at the start of their careers.

“There is a good chance that many of the players you will see at Felixstowe will start appearing on your televisions within the next few years,” said tournament referee Carl Baldwin. “This is a chance for people who have enjoyed watching Wimbledon on the television to come to Felixstowe and appreciate at close hand just how fast the players hit the ball at this standard.”

Felixstowe's Baldwin, who referees all over the world and has officiated at events as high as the Davis Cup, added: “Even the players that are 'only' two to three hundred in the world will surprise those that haven't seen much elite tennis live.

“Those that come along always come back after witnessing the pace and skill of the game at this level.”

The Championships, which hold a $25,000 prize for the women and $15,000 for the men, start on Monday and end on Sunday. Entry to see these world class players up close starts at just £3 and remains below £10 for the entire week.

Other players that have confirmed their entries to the tournament include Austrian Nikola Hofmanova, the No.4 player in the female junior world rankings, and 19-year-old Russian Pavel Chekhov, a former semi-finalist at Junior Wimbledon.

This year will also see a junior event run alongside the senior competition for the first time. Schools from Suffolk and Norfolk have been invited to enter two boys and two girls into an Under-13 and Under-15 tournament to be held on the Thursday and Friday.

Simon Harper, who runs part of his Sharper Tennis Academy out of Felixstowe Tennis Club, said: “There will be a great opportunity for these youngsters to not only play at the same time as these 'A' grade players, but potentially also help warm them up and be their hitting partners at various times.”

Play starts at 10.30am each day, expect for Saturday and Sunday when semi-finals and finals play starts at 12pm. For more information visit:

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