Canterbury seeks New Zealand Davis Cup tie

BRENDON EGAN
Last updated 05:00 30/12/2013

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Canterbury Tennis are chasing a Davis Cup international tie to Wilding Park next year.

Christchurch has not hosted the New Zealand men's team since 1999 when they played Korea at the CBS Canterbury Arena. They last featured at the home of Canterbury tennis, Wilding Park, in 1996 when they won their clash with China 4-1.

With international sport slowly starting to return to Christchurch following the February 2011 earthquake, Canterbury Tennis are eager to gain more high profile tournaments.

Chief executive Neil Prior said they had registered their interest with Tennis New Zealand about hosting the men's Davis Cup team's next home tie in 2014. He was optimistic about their chances, but admitted it would depend on what happened in the next round of matches.

''We've put our hand up. It would be good to see that back. It's going to require some results and draws to go our way.''

New Zealand now compete in group one of the Asia-Pacific zone after winning their group two promotion clash with the Philippines in September.

They face China in an away tie in late January and if they can win that would advance on to play Uzbekistan, who are seeded, in the next round.

The Wilding Park facilities have undergone repair work since the earthquakes with the six court indoor stadium re-opening in April and seven outdoor courts being completed in early December. These provide the minimum 12 court requirement needed to host national and international tournaments.

Prior said it would be an exciting fillip for tennis in the region and Canterbury sports fans if they were able to bring a Davis Cup tie to Christchurch.

''It would be a good boost for sport full-stop. This city, post-earthquake, with the Cricket World Cup and the Fifa under-20 World Cup and other sport coming back as well, I think it's great for the city's recovery.

''It's such an intrinsic part of who we are as Cantabrians. It's in our blood.''

Wilding Park will host two major age-group events next month - the first time national and international tennis has been held in the city since the earthquakes.

From January 10-14, some of the country's brightest emerging talent will contest the under-12 nationals. Canterbury players are expected to be among the frontrunners with Naynay Homkrum ranked No 1 in the girls' competition and Jamie Garbett seeded second in the boys' section.

A fortnight later, the grade four ITF (International Tennis Federation) Canterbury under-18 championship will be fought out from January 27 to February 1. Players from 30 countries will be represented at the tournament, which will feature a 64-player main draw in both the boys' and girls' singles competitions.

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In 2006, the event was held in Christchurch and won by a 14-year-old Bernard Tomic from Australia, who has gone on to play professionally. He rose to 27th in the world rankings last year.

''These kids are dedicated. They're setting themselves out on a professional career. Not all of them will make it, but the talented ones have a good shot,'' Prior said.

Tennis Canterbury did not know whether Wilding Park would be their future long-term home, but with the repairs to the courts, Prior said they had a suitable interim facility.

''We're working closely with the council to keep the Nga Puna Wai concept developing. We know we've got to get it right because it's creating a legacy for future generations.''

- The Press

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