The Nature Valley Open in Nottingham is one of the jewels in the British Tennis crown and heralds the start of the grass-court season. Prestigious tennis tournaments in the city have a long history dating back to the 1970s, but the WTA women’s event began back in 2015 and has quickly become a standout moment in the Nottinghamsporting calendar.
The week-long event is combined with the men’s ATP Challenger tournament as tennis stars from all over the world will converge on the Nottingham Tennis Centre from 9th to 17th June. This year’s women’s event has a star-studded line-up with four of the world’s top 25 set to make an appearance.
Ashleigh Barty, ranked 18th in the world, Magdaléna Rybáriková (19), Naomi Osaka (21) and British No.1 Johanna Konta (23) are also joined by last year’s winner Donna Vekic, Olympic gold medalist Monica Puig and British No.2 Heather Watson.
WTA Tournament Director, Rebecca James, said: “This is a top-class line-up and one I am sure the public are excited about seeing. It is fantastic to have four of the world’s top 25 in Nottingham and it shows how important this tournament is for the grass-court season.
“The tournament in Nottingham is now in its fourth year and it grows bigger each year. The players all love coming to compete at the Nottingham Tennis Centre to play on the fantastic grass-courts and in front of the amazing knowledgeable spectators.”
Slovakian Rybáriková reached the semi-finals in Nottingham last year and was also a semi-finalist at Wimbledon, before losing to eventual champion Garbiñe Muguruza.
“I am excited to return to Nottingham and am looking forward to playing in the Nature Valley Open again,” said Rybáriková. “I enjoyed my time in the city and at the tournament last year. The grass courts are excellent, so it is the perfect way for me to start my preparation for Wimbledon. I had a great run to the semi-final last time and I hope I can improve on that this year.”
British tennis fans will be looking forward to seeing Konta who has risen dramatically through the world rankings in the last couple of years.
At the end of 2014, the British No.1 was ranked 150th in the world but by July of last year, the 26-year-old had reached a career-high of fourth in the world.
Konta has won three WTA tour titles and 2017 saw her reach the quarter-final at Australian Open and the semi-finals at Wimbledon.
Konta, who will play in Nottingham, Birmingham and Eastbourne this year, said: “I’m so excited to be returning to play these fantastic tournaments in the summer. The grass-court season is one of my favourites and nothing compares to competing at home with passionate fans, friends and family who are behind you all the way.
“I know I’m incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to compete in front of a home crowd, it’s such a special feeling. These tournaments also provide me with the perfect pathway to Wimbledon. Last year it proved to be the best preparation possible as I enjoyed my most successful Wimbledon ever and hopefully it will have the same effect for 2018.
“As always I know there will be a really strong player field at Nottingham, Birmingham and Eastbourne and I’ll face some tough opponents in competitive matches, but I can’t wait to get on court and fly the flag for British tennis.”
The men’s challenger tournament runs alongside the women’s event and one of Britain’s rising men’s tennis stars, Cameron Norrie, has confirmed his participation at the event.
The 22-year-old shot to fame in Britain’s Davis Cup tie with Spain in Marbella in February when he came from two sets down to beat Roberto Bautista who was ranked 91 places above him.
Norrie said: “I’m really looking forward to coming to Nottingham to play on the excellent grass courts. I know that the courts there will be a fantastic preparation for me as a lead up to Wimbledon as it will be a good opportunity for me to get used to the grass and to play well in the event.”
Men’s Tournament Director, Paul Hutchins, said: “We are really pleased that Cam is coming to the tournament. He has had an interesting career since being a top-10 world junior, recently representing GB in Davis Cup action against Spain where he played unbelievably well to beat top clay-court specialist Roberto Bautista.
“Before turning pro in 2017, Cam was a top All American College player at Texas Christian College and has adapted well to the ATP Tour, recently qualifying in two ATP Masters events in Indian Wells and Miami. It will be good for the Nottingham public to welcome Cam.”
In addition to world-class tennis on court, there is plenty on offer for fans off court too, including al fresco dining and the Explore Wimbledon exhibition that will give spectators the opportunity to actually step into the footsteps of past tennis legends.
The annual Family Fun Weekend will take place on Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th June where children can get involved in various activities and the ever-popular Ladies Day will be returning on Wednesday 13th June.
The Nature Valley Open is a one of the most sought-after tennis events of the season and is one of the British Tennis grass-court lead up events to Wimbledon. Get your ticket to the summer at Lta.org.uk/major-events/nature-valley-open/