International field descends on Rye

Annabel Watson and Mark Hadley, last year's mixed doubles winners at the Rye LTC Open Tournament

Annabel Watson and Mark Hadley, last year's mixed doubles winners at the Rye LTC Open Tournament

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An international field is set to battle it out in Rye Lawn Tennis Club’s 89th Annual Invitation Tournament.

Some 270 players have entered the prestigious event, which will run from today (Friday) until Monday on the club’s immaculate grass courts on the banks of the River Rother.

The line-up includes a number of skilled players from Italy, Germany, Holland and Slovenia, as well as a strong field from all corners of the UK.

With Jonathan Tassell, last year’s men’s singles champion, not defending his title, Dutch international Alex Soeters and New Zealand international Mark Hadley - both former winners - could be vying to recapture the trophy.

They will come up against some tough opposition, however, including Slovenian Nikola Maljkovic, fresh from an International Tennis Federation tournament in Paris, world rackets champions Alex Titchener-Barrett and Willie Boone, Wadhurst LTC coach Matt Golledge and Colorado State University player David Mould, a newcomer to the Rye tournament.

Tim Henman’s brother Richard, former tennis professional Robin Drysdale, Wiltshire county player Robert Loosemore and recent All England LTC chief executive Chris Gorringe also join the men’s line-up.

In the ladies’ singles, Hurlingham coach Karen Hazzard returns to defend her title in a strong draw, which includes Queen’s players and former Rye winners Philippa Coates and Annabel Watson, as well as Drysdale’s daughter Olivia.

Among Rye locals taking part are doctors Philip and Lelly James, Freddie Menzies - who oversees the maintenance of the club’s grass courts - and Peter Woodroffe, a former chairman of Rye LTC and the “oldest playing member”.

The singles and doubles finals will all be contested on Monday afternoon, and members of the public are welcome to watch the action throughout the weekend.

Play will start at 9.15am every day other than the first day. Breakfast, lunch and tea will be available at the club every day, while a tournament barbeque/dance will be held tomorrow evening. Tickets will be available for purchase in the grounds.

The tournament once again heralds the start of 10 days of competitive tennis at the Military Road-based club.

The Junior Tournament, which follows on from Wednesday to next Friday, also sees a strong draw of local youngsters, as well as others coming to compete from further afield. The club’s Closed Tournament and Invitation Mixed Doubles will take place through the weekend of August 6 and 7.

Rye LTC’s annual programme also includes tennis matches against other leading clubs in the UK, and participation in the Sussex County and Wealden leagues.

The club is active in several other sports, including squash, rackets, table tennis and croquet. There is a rapidly growing junior tennis section and a regular programme of coaching for juniors throughout the year.

Rye LTC has recently purchased the field adjoining the grass tennis courts as part of a long-term project to develop and further improve the facilities for members.

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