This year’s Aegon sponsored tennis tournament held annually at the Surbiton Tennis Club boasted more top players than ever with the likes of Dustin Brown, John Isner, Heather Watson and Laura Robson all taking part including Elena Pliskova, the eventual ladies winner. From relatively lowly beginnings the tournament has gone from strength to strength and is now a fully fledged mixed challenger event offering prize money to all competing players. According to friends who live locally and who are members of the Surbiton Tennis Club, little has changed since the tournaments’ inception many years ago. Even the familiar club house has changed little and appears just like I remember it when I first visited the  club many years ago. Even the cramped media centre where hot desking is all part of the event’s idiosyncrasies has hardly changed over the years despite it now attracting a lot more national and international tennis journalists than in previous years although most preferred writing copy in the pleasant surroundings of the large cafe at the other end of the grounds. .

As in its early years the tournament always takes place immediately after the first week of French Open although its static dates have changed to fit in with the French Open now being played a week later. More often than not early casualties from the French Open end up playing here even in the early years when there was little or no prize money on offer. Now the tournament’s status has been raised to an official ATP Challenger prize money has increased but the chance to practice on grass prior to Wimbledon still attracts a lot of top players. Unfortunately bad weather played havoc with the scheduling of this year’s event when it rained heavily for a couple of days which meant it took the best part of a couple of  days for the grass to dry out sufficiently for play to re-start. The following warm, sunny days helped but somehow the tournament director managed to catch up with all outstanding matches even though it meant Heather Watson playing two singles and a doubles match in one day but then that’s hazards of grass court tennis.

This year I took the opportunity of popping by to visit old friends living nearby as I hadn’t seen Nora and Ernie for a long time and they were keen to introduce me to their beautiful 14 month old daughter, Oliver who is already happily walking unaided. It was good to spend a couple of hours in their beautiful garden having a coffee in warm sunshine while little Olivia played with Mum and nanny! Fortunately I managed to sneak back to the tennis in time to watch the two semi-final matches and caught up with Sebastian Adams, the former manager of Dukes Meadows, a close friends with Dodi Sela, one of the semifinalists. 

If you want to watch some great tennis at close quarters, Surbiton’s relaxed atmosphere is an ideal venue and still one of my favourite pre-Wimbledon grass court tournaments. 





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