LTA believes grass greener down south

Scotland may be producing the best players in Britain but the focus of British tennis is shifting further south. From next year the pre-Wimbledon men's tournament in Nottingham will be played at Eastbourne, while Edgbaston must fight off challenges from other venues to keep its women's event. Roger Draper, the Lawn Tennis Association's chief executive, said yesterday that pressure from players, who want to base themselves in and around London during the grass-court season, was a major reason for the change.

Except for Richard Gasquet and occasional appearances by leading Britons, Nottingham has struggled to attract top fields in recent years. The LTA believes more leading men will play in a combined event at Eastbourne, which already draws many of the top women. As consolation Nottingham has been invited to stage, from next year, a combined men's Challenger tournament and women's event in the second week of the French Open, a slot currently filled by Surbiton.

Eastbourne will be the seventh world event to bring men and women together and the first in Britain at this level. There has already been substantial investment in Devonshire Park and more will follow, with the second court expanded from 800 seats to 1,500 and additional seating installed at a third.

While Maria Sharapova has played at Edgbaston for the last four years, the Priory Club's hold on its event has been looking vulnerable because of limited facilities. Birmingham will no doubt be keen to keep its place in the calendar, but the LTA is inviting bids from other venues to stage the tournament from 2010. A bidding process will also be used in deciding venues for future Davis Cup ties.

The LTA is in talks with a number of sponsors with a view to finding a single backer for the whole of British tennis, which it is hoped will help make the pre-Wimbledon tournaments more viable. The men's event at Queen's is profitable, but the tournaments at Eastbourne, Nottingham, Edgbaston and Surbiton lose £1.5m a year.

Wimbledon will be hoping to welcome back its defending women's champion in June, but Venus Williams cast doubt over her future yesterday when she withdrew indefinitely from tennis because of "some issues that I need to resolve". Williams, who had cited medical reasons for pulling out of this week's tournament at Amelia Island, said she hoped to be back in time for the French Open. She suffered from anaemia last year, complaining of dizziness on court, while there has also been recent speculation that she was getting engaged to the American golfer, Hank Kuehne.

Men competing in the Davis Cup World Group will receive ranking points from next year. It is hoped this will encourage more top players to commit to the competition.

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable