THE Perth Tennis International #1 gets underway this Sunday at the State Tennis Centre, with the field boasting an impressive line-up of international talent from 22 countries.
The first of the Perth Women’s Pro Tour events is headlined by world number 143 Fangzhou Liu, of China, who narrowly missed out on qualifying for the main draw of this year’s Australian Open and had a successful 2016.
Liu will face some stiff competition from second seed Tamara Zidansek of Slovenia, who has won five Pro Tour singles titles and two doubles titles in 2016.
Jennifer Elie from the USA will also make her return to Perth, seeded number 15 in the draw.
Elie made the semi-finals at last year’s event, defeating hometown favourite Storm Sanders in the quarterfinals.
Despite the strength of the international contingent, the Australian line-up is not to be underestimated.
Jaimee Fourlis returns to Perth to defend her title, after last year winning the Perth Tennis International #1 as a qualifier.
Fourlis has had a dream start to 2017, earning a wildcard into the main draw of the Australian Open where she progressed to the second round, before losing to Svetlana Kuznetsova.
Fourlis became the youngest Australian female to win a match at Melbourne Park in nine years.
WA locals Sanders and Maddison Inglis will look to capitalise on their youth and home ground advantage as they compete for their share of $50,000 in prize money over the next fortnight.
The surprise packet in this year’s qualifying draw is former world number 18 Alexandra Stevenson of the USA, who made it to the semi-finals at Wimbledon in 1999 as a qualifier.
Tournament director Loretta Hughes said she was thrilled with this year’s line-up of players.
“It’s fantastic to see such a strong field for the Perth Tennis International,” she said.
“These events launch the players into the world of professional tennis, and allow spectators to become familiar with some of the future champions of our game.”
Qualifying for the Perth Tennis International #1 will begin on Sunday , and the main draw on Tuesday 14 February with play commencing at 9am each day.
This event will be immediately followed by the Perth Tennis International #2, commencing on February 19.
Entry is free to all events and there will also be a free live stream so people can catch all the action from home.