The best of Pāpāmoa and Tauranga will be on show to the world in the week leading up to Christmas this year as professional tennis players from all over the globe travel to the sunny Bay of Plenty coast for the inaugural EVES Open.
The ITF World Tennis Tour event is also looking like a boon for local businesses, with Tennis New Zealand partnering with a range of local businesses to keep courtside spectators well fed, watered and entertained throughout.
The EVES Open – ITF World Tennis Tour: Tauranga will run from December 18-24 at Venture Developments WBOP Tennis Centre in Gordon Spratt Reserve, Pāpāmoa.
It is a professional event for men and women with official ATP and WTA world ranking points and a total prize pool of NZ$70,000.
Players from more than 25 countries have entered, coming from all over Europe, North America, Asia, and Australia, as well as a strong Kiwi contingent.
“The tournament provides a fantastic opportunity to showcase our region to the world over summer,” Matt Cowley, chief executive of the Tauranga Business Chamber, says.
“Many tennis enthusiasts across the globe will have their eyes on Pāpāmoa as they watch the sport’s future rising talent.”
Cowley says the EVES Open will also bring additional tourist visitor nights and expenditure into the Pāpāmoa community, “which will be appreciated by local businesses”.
Popular Pāpāmoa brewery The Island is an official partner of the EVES Open and will be running an on-site marquee bar for the public, as well as serving courtside hospitality tables just metres from the action.
Sales manager Scott Featherstone says people can expect an extension of everything that is good about The Island – from fresh cold local beer, to warm and friendly service.
He says the EVES Open is “a great chance to interact with The Island outside of our normal venue”.
“It’s such a great event for the local community, we wanted to be a part of this to help grow the Bay of Plenty as a high value sporting destination,” Featherstone says.
“We’re really looking forward to the quality of the tennis. It will be great to see emerging players and those striving to move up in the rankings and raise their player profiles.”
Hamish Carter, owner of Tauranga cafe and caterer Oscar and Otto, which will be feeding all the courtside hospitality guests during the week, says he and his team “leapt at the chance to be involved”.
Carter says he is delighted to see the city’s reputation for hosting major sports events is growing “and it shows there is more to our region than a beach, it’s very exciting”.
He says he hopes it is a sign of more things to come.
“It’s great for everyone to be able to watch, and of course it’s a boost for local businesses catering to visitors and players.”
The ITF World Tennis Tour features hundreds of tournaments each year across dozens of countries, with two events in New Zealand this December – in Wellington and Tauranga.
Vicki Semple, sponsorship and events manager at EVES Real Estate, says the EVES Open will not only bring economic benefits to Tauranga and Pāpāmoa, “but it will create a buzz and sense of pride in the community”.
“Pāpāmoa is one of the fastest growing suburbs in New Zealand and it is continuing to attract new residents, businesses, events and opportunities,” she says.
“This international tennis tournament is a perfect example of that and in partnership with Tennis New Zealand, we would love to grow the EVES Open into an annual and iconic event on Tauranga’s summer calendar.”
Semple says hosting the EVES Open will be a team effort and it would not be possible without the support of Tauranga City Council and TECT, local businesses, Tennis Western Bay of Plenty, Pāpāmoa Tennis Club, “and of course the community who we hope will pack out the stands and bring an electric atmosphere”.
As well as watching all the international tennis action from 11am each day, there will be activities for kids from 11am-1pm and courtside hospitality, music and entertainment from 3pm.
Tennis New Zealand chief executive Julie Paterson says she is excited to see international tennis back in Tauranga.
“The EVES Open is going to be huge for our tennis community in Tauranga,” she says.
“There are a lot of flourishing clubs in the region and having elite tennis in town is a fantastic way to ensure visibility of our sport and fuel participation growth even further.
“All of our local sponsors and partners have been amazing in helping promote the event, it’s going to be one you don’t want to miss.”
The EVES Open – ITF World Tennis Tour: Tauranga will be held from December 18-24 at Venture Developments WBOP Tennis Centre, Gordon Spratt Reserve, Pāpāmoa. Play will begin from 11am each day, with entry free to spectators. Courtside hospitality is also available to book at www.tennis.kiwi/evesopen