Hobart grabs another seven stars
By staff writers
December 12, 2006
SEVEN more of the world's top 50 women tennis players will contest the Moorilla Hobart International in January, further boosting the tournament's strongest player field.
Tournament organisers announced today that Fed Cup winner Flavia Penetta, Russian glamour girl Maria Kirilenko, world No.32 Alona Bondarenko, defending champion Jie Zheng, rising Russian 19-year-old Olga Poutchkova, world No.39 Severine Bremond from France and former top 15 player Elena Lekhovtseva from Russia would contest the title.
The player list now boasts 17 of the world's top 50 players, headlined by seven-time grand slam winner Serena Williams and world no.13 Anna Chakvetadze.
Zheng, the world No.33 from China, had her best year on tour in 2006, winning two singles titles, including the Hobart tournament, and six doubles titles, including the doubles crowns at both the Australian Open and Wimbledon.
Penetta, the world No.28 and three-time WTA Tour title-winner, helped Italy record its first ever Fed Cup crown earlier this year, while world No.30 Kirilenko collected $547,400 in prize money this year and made the third round at the Australian, French and US Opens.
Teen sensation Poutchkova began 2006 with a world ranking of 197 but jumped an astounding 159 places after reaching two WTA Tour finals, one semi-final and two quarter-finals.
Tournament director Michael Roberts attributed the record breaking player field to the investments made in both the Moorilla Hobart International and Australian Open series.
"This year there have been some bold new changes and investments in both this tournament and the Australian Open Series as a whole, and we have been rewarded with an exceptional player field," Roberts said.
"Tennis Australia, along with the state member associations, have put a lot of effort into ensuring these tournaments are taken to the next level.
"In Hobart, the prizemoney has reached its highest ever mark of US$170,000 ($216,400), while players, fans and officials will enjoy an $800,000 facilities upgrade.
"To have another seven top 50 players, six of whom are ranked inside the top 40, is brilliant news for the tournament."
The Moorilla Hobart International, part of the Australian Open Series, will run from Friday 5 – Friday 12 January, 2007, at the Domain Tennis Centre.