The LTA Announces New Challenger Events Amid Speculation Over Andy Murray’s Return
The British Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) has confirmed on Monday that a duo of new £100,000 Challenger tournaments will take place later this year.
Loughborough, England and Glasgow, Scotland have been named as the cities set to stage the events. Which will both take place on indoor hard courts ahead of the grass season. The first will be held at the Scotstoun Tennis Centre in Glasgow between April 28 – May 6th. A couple weeks later the Dan Maskell Centre at Loughborough University will host the second event. Taking place the week commencing May 19th.
“It’s great news that we’re creating more playing opportunities for British players in the UK.” Davis Cup captain Leon Smith said in a statement.
“These Challenger events are invaluable in providing high-quality match experience as well as the opportunity to build up important ATP ranking points. Hopefully we can see some high-level performances from our Brits at these events.”
LTA Director of Major Events and Competitions, Oliver Scadgell, has also praised the introduction of the two new tournaments.
“These two new events enhance our domestic calendar of International Tournaments in 2018, which consists of 12 ITF Pro-Circuit tournaments (six men’s and six women’s) ranging in prize money from $15,000 to $25,000, in addition to the grass court Trophy Series which sees three events for men at Surbiton, Nottingham and Ilkley and four for women at Surbiton, Manchester, Ilkley and Southsea.” Said Scadgell.
The announcement follows speculation that former world No.1 Andy Murray is aiming to start his comeback on the Challenger tour. On March 2nd the Daily Mail reported that Murray has held talks with the LTA, according to their sources. It has been reported that the two parties have been discussing potentially staging an event to facilitate Murray’s return to the tour before the grass season. Although, neither the LTA or Murray have commented on this.
Murray underwent hip surgery in January after failing to stage a comeback at the Australian Open. In February numerous media sources, including the BBC, reported that the Brit was ahead of schedule in his planned comeback. The initial goal was for him to be ready in time for the Aegon Championships at The Queen’s Club, which will get underway on June 18th.
Should Murray play in one of the new events, it will be his first appearance in a Challenger tournament since the 2005 Mons Open in Belgium.