Putting together fields for five major tennis tournaments in late December-early January to ensure they align with the Australian Open is akin to a game of chess.
Sydney and Perth are the venues for the United Cup. There are also tournaments in Adelaide, Hobart and Brisbane alongside Canberra.
The aim is to give players as much time on court in the lead-up to the Open, which gets underway on 15 January in Melbourne.
The Canberra International, which takes place in the first week of January, is expected to attract players ranked between 100 and 200 in the men’s and 100 and 300 in the women’s tournament.
The timing is crucial, with the Australian Open qualifiers getting underway a couple of days after the Canberra tournament finishes.
That alignment is an additional incentive for players, along with increased prize money and points for the Canberra tournament.
New tournament director for the Canberra International, Lawrence Robertson, believes the elevated status will be evident on the court.
“We think there will be a higher rank of player coming to Canberra. There could be a well-known player coming back from injury or an emerging superstar.”
Canberrans will be hoping talented junior 16-year-old Charlie Camus gets an opportunity.
“Charlie is an immense talent. He is under strong consideration for a wildcard. This will give him a chance to test himself against some of the more seasoned players on the tour. It would be great for the tournament to have a local playing.”
As to the possibility of Nick Kyrgios playing in the Canberra International, Lawrence Robertson says, “If Nick is fit, he will most likely play in the United Cup in Sydney and Perth or the Adelaide International”.
On the women’s side of the draw, the tournament is expected to attract exciting Australian players such as Kimberly Birrell and Destanee Aiava and players emerging from junior ranks.
Lawrence Robertson said aside from what will happen on the court, the aim is to make the week Canberra’s premier summer event.
Stalls with local produce, food and drink, and ‘come and try’ tennis opportunities will provide a festival-style atmosphere.
The Canberra International will be launched at a community tennis day on 29 October when tickets will also go on sale.