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Dawning Of A New Era For ASB Classic

Dawning Of A New Era For ASB Classic

A new era in women’s professional sport in New Zealand has been formed with the announcement that the ASB Classic will be part of the new look 55-tournament Sony Ericsson WTA Tour calendar in 2009 and beyond.

Not only will the event have a new tournament director but there will be an increase in prizemoney as well as new rulings which allow better player accessibility, plus the future of the tournament has been secured.

The 2009 event will have Brenda Perry at the helm as tournament director and will also be eligible to potentially secure a top-10 ranked player who has met Tour commitments.

““The new structure is aimed to create a healthier Tour and business enhancing women’s tennis for players, tournaments, media and fans alike and I believe it will impact positively on the ASB Classic,” said new ASB Classic tournament director, Perry. “It is fantastic to see the ASB Classic and tennis in New Zealand be part of the biggest changes in international women’s tennis since the WTA Tour was founded 35 years ago by Billie Jean King.”

The appreciation and hard work of previous tournament director Richard Palmer who has been appointed the Heineken Open tournament director after 12 highly successful years in charge of the ASB Classic has been acknowledged by staff, players, sponsors and all others who have spent time around the event.

The ASB Classic will significantly increase its value in prizemoney from the 2008 amount of US$145,000 to the new total of US$225,000 for the January 5-10 event.

This increase has been made possible by ASB’s renewed commitment to the ASB Classic as the premier long-term partner of the event.

The tournament also welcomes Zealandia as a supporting partner which helped retain the event on the WTA calendar for 2009 and beyond.

“Tennis New Zealand is delighted to have Zealandia as a supporting partner of the ASB Classic. It was no secret that when the 2009 WTA upgrade of the event was outlined, there was going to be additional support needed to retain the event. The Zealandia commitment and the success of tournaments in the past has set a great platform for future successful from all perspectives including the prospects of New Zealand players excelling,” says Tennis New Zealand CEO, Steve Walker.

The support partnership with Zealandia along with ASB’s ongoing sponsorship commitment has made it possible for Tennis New Zealand and Tennis Auckland to accommodate the upgrade and thereby secure the event for New Zealand.

Zealandia horticulture has recently become the No1 wholesale nursery in the country.

The 2008 winner of the ASB Classic was Lindsay Davenport who beat Frenchwoman, Aravane Rezai in the final. Kiwi No1 Marina Erakovic reached the semifinals and has since gone on to become a top-80 ranked player.

The 2009 ASB Classic will be held at the ASB Tennis Centre, January 5-10, 2009

ENDS


Additional points of interest:

ASB Classic to increase prizemoney by US$80,000 going from US$145,000 to US$225, 000.
New minimum prizemoney category for WTA Tour is US$225,000
40% overall prizemoney increase across all 55 events on Tour total $US84.4million
ASB Classic to become 1 of the 55 worldwide exclusive Tour events
New categories for 55 events - 4 Grand Slams mandatory, - 4 Premier mandatory US$4,500,000, - 15 other Premier Events ranging from US$600,000 to US$2,000,000, - 34 International Tournaments US$ 225,000.
34 events at US$225,000 level.
Week 1 of 2009 calendar will be two International level events - the ASB Classic in Auckland and the Brisbane event at the same prizemoney as Auckland.
Roadmap Features:
-Longer off season (8-10 weeks)
-mid season three week break post Wimbledon for top players
-streamlining of events for public and player health
-more mandatory events/less flexibility for player schedules/greater penalties
-40% increase in prizemoney

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