Trophy Tour Tantalizes Fans Down Under
Published December 02, 2010 12:00
MELBOURNE, Australia - With player entry deadlines for the lead-in events in Brisbane, Auckland, Hobart and Sydney now closed, anticipation for the first Grand Slam event of 2011 is mounting.
Helping to build excitement, the first nationwide Australian Open Trophy Tour is also taking place - giving tennis fans around the country a chance to have their photo taken with the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup (women's trophy) and the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup (men's trophy).
Following the tournament's media launch in October, the trophies headed to South Australia, first stopping off at the Port Pirie Tennis International, an ITF event, on the occasion of the tournament's 20th anniversary. They then moved on to nearby Adelaide, where local girl and former world No.8 Alicia Molik - who reached the quarters at Melbourne Park in 2005 - met fans of all ages, and clearly enjoyed holding the silverware herself.
Last week, the trophies were in Brisbane, where Evonne Goolagong Cawley and Ashley Cooper, both former winners of the national championships, joined forces to promote the event. Other greats from the men's game who have taken part include John Newcombe and Todd Woodbridge, who went to Sydney, and John Alexander, who met with politicians on the lawns in front of Parliament House in Canberra.
Having been to the Perth and Esperance in Western Australia, Darwin in the Northern Territory, and Rockhampton in Queensland, the trophy is currently at home in Melbourne, in time for Friday night's Australian Tennis Awards gala. Samantha Stosur, Jarmila Groth, Anastasia Rodionova and Lleyton Hewitt are all nominated for the inaugural John Newcombe Medal, to be awarded to the player considered the country's best of the year.
World No.6 Stosur wil kickstart the 2011 season as the headline act at her home event, the Brisbane International, joined by Nadia Petrova and Daniela Hantuchova. Over the Tasman Sea in New Zealand the same week, Auckland's ASB Classic boasts the Russian triumvirate of Maria Sharapova, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Dinara Safina, along with defending champion Yanina Wickmayer and Japanese veteran Kimiko Date Krumm.
The week before the Australian Open, seven of the Top 10 are expected at the Premier-level Medibank International Sydney, led by world No.1 Caroline Wozniacki and US Open champion Kim Clijsters. And down south in Tasmania, the Moorilla Hobart International will feature Marion Bartoli, defending champion Alona Bondarenko, Safina, Molik and Groth.
For the first time in Australian Open history, the 2011 winners of the men's and women's singles titles will take home an exact full-size replica trophy, instead of the miniature replica past champions have received.