Tennis: NZ Premier League event featuring top local players to start in June

Cameron Norrie is one of the 24 players who will take part.
Cameron Norrie is one of the 24 players who will take part. Photo credit: Photosport

Tennis is the latest sport to announce plans for a post-lockdown comeback, with the launch of the New Zealand Premier League tennis next month.

Starting on June 3, 24 players will compete across three weeks of round-robin and finals play, with all matches to be played in Auckland without spectators. 

The tournament will be the first professional tennis competition in the southern hemisphere since the shutdown of sport due to COVID-19, featuring many of the country's best players, along with some expat stars.

Former NZ junior and current world No.77 Cameron Norrie, and NZ-born Japanese doubles specialist Ben McLachlan are two overseas-based players scheduled to take part in the event, alongside Kiwi Davis Cup representatives Rubin Statham and Artem Sitak.

Additionally, some of the country's brightest prospects have returned from their respective US Division One universities to play alongside touring professionals. 

A team format will be used, with players split into eight teams of three and the top seeded players separated into different pools, ensuring even competition among teams.

The tournament is run in conjunction with Tennis New Zealand and Lavie Tennis Academy. 

"The talent pool here in NZ right now is as deep as we are ever likely to see," says Academy director and head coach Sebastian Lavie. "This is the perfect time to launch what will be a great series. 

"We're looking to be really innovative, and make things as fun as we can for players and those watching at home."

Tennis players have been able to resume training under Level 3 restrictions, when courts re-opened. 

A full schedule and player list will be announced later this week. 

The men's WTA and women's ATP tours have been suspended since March, and won't be back until the end of July at the earliest. 

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