FORMER world number two and comeback queen Vera Zvonareva has given the Playford Tennis Centre a glowing recommendation as she prepared to take the court for her first round match of the City of Playford Tennis International tournament.
The 2010 Wimbledon and US Open finalist spent time on the Playford courts earlier this week, preparing for the tournament, as she continues her tennis comeback after spending time away from the sport to have a baby in 2016.
Zvonareva, 33, said the new $8.9 million facility – built on the corner of Main North and Midway roads – was “very nice” and similar to Melbourne Park, which hosts the annual Australian Open grand slam event.
“I think it is great to have a facility like this in a small city, to give opportunities for children to pick up racquets and play tennis,” she said.
“In Russia, there are also a couple of new facilities that have opened up over the past couple of years and I think it is great, and I hope many more children get a chance to pick up the racquet and play.”
Despite being thrilled to be in Playford for the start of the inaugural tournament, Zvonareva said her young daughter, Evelina, did not make the trip, but will be cheering for her mother alongside family members back in Russia.
“She’s not here, she is back home with her daddy and grandmother – it is a bit too far to bring her,” she said.
“It is kind of difficult to leave my baby behind for that period of time, but I have decided to come and play and, sure, once I have finished my tournaments here, I will be more than happy to go back home and see her.”
The City of Playford Tennis International men’s draw officially kicked off on Tuesday, with former Australian Davis Cup representative Marinko Matosevic causing the upset of the tournament, beating Russian world number 65 and number one seed Daniil Medvedev in three sets.
The first round was full of upsets, with American number two seed Bjorn Fratangelo going down to Victorian Marc Polmans, while Queensland qualifier Maverick Banes knocked out Swiss number three seed Henri Laaksonen.
Playford Mayor Glenn Docherty said the council is “thrilled” that the new event has been able to draw such big names on both the men and women’s side of the draw.
The City of Playford Tennis International continues this week with the final matches taking place on Sunday, January 7.
For more information, visit the Tennis SA website (www.tennis.com.au).