SOME of the country's top tennis prospects are heading to Torquay Lawn Tennis Club this weekend for the week-long Torbay Open tournament.
Torquay LTC head coach Steve Maslen said more than 450 entries had been received for the grade three tournament – the largest of its kind in the country.
Players including Andy Murray and Tim Henman have played in the event in previous years, and it is expected that many top juniors will once again be competing.
Courts at Abbey Park and Cary Park Junior Tennis Club are being hired to cope with the playing schedule, which will see some courts in use from 7am to 10pm every day.
Play begins with the doubles events on Sunday, plus the U21 ladies and men's singles sections. Finals are then expected to finish the following Sunday, August 11.
Among the top seeds are Great Britain men's number 80 Matt Hindley and women's number 81 Ellie Stokes.
Among the top-ranked juniors is Joe Leather, who is 20th in Great Britain in the 12 and under category.
Maslen said the number of entries was a sign that the event was still going strong.
"It's very healthy – we've got over 450 entries again, so that's great," he said.
"Anyone is welcome – we'd like people to come and watch, and its free entry.
"It's the largest grade three tournament in the country, and the club are very proud to host it."
Maslen said it was a chance for spectators to see some of the stars of tomorrow for free.
"Andy Murray, Tim Henman, Sue Barker, Judy Murray, Mike Sangster – they've all played in it," he added.
"Andy Murray was knocked out in the quarter-finals of the 14 and under event.
"At some point in a junior's playing pathway they tend to come and play this tournament.
"We have players from all over the country coming.
"There will be players in the top 20 in the country in certain age groups, and we've got some very good mini tennis players.
"There are competitors from all the top clubs – Gosling, West Hants, Cardiff and Swansea, Staffordshire.
"It also creates money for the local economy, as all the players have to stay somewhere while they are here because they can't travel.
"There are around 460 players, and a lot of them are juniors so they will come with coaches and parents, so it could easily be 1,000 people for sure."
Maslen was not worried about the prospect of a few showers during the week, and said most players would carry on regardless.
He said: "With our facilities at the club, including the artificial clay surface and the all-weather, they tend to play on through the rain unless it's torrential.
"We always get some rain, but the referees usually make them play through it – but we're obviously looking for some sunshine."
ORDER OF PLAY
Sunday, August 4: Doubles; Men's and Women's U21 singles start
Monday, Aug 5: U12 and U16 boys and girls singles start
Tuesday, Aug 6: U14 and U18 boys and girls singles start
Wednesday, Aug 7: Mini tennis red event (eight and under).
Thursday, Aug 8: Mini tennis orange event (nine and under).
Friday, Aug 9: Mini tennis green event (10 and under).
Saturday and Sunday Aug 10-11: Finals.