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Anyone for tennis?

How do you get Wimbledon-quality tennis without leaving Sussex or camping out on pavements? Grab some strawberries and a jug of Pimms and I’ll tell you…

If the International Eastbourne hasn’t been on your radar before, it really should be. It’s a Wimbledon warm up on grass courts at Devonshire Park with some top players flexing their considerable muscles. It runs 22 -30 June this year, sponsored by Nature Valley. I’ve been along last two years and have been really impressed.

Last year I saw British hopeful Johanna Konta (who actually grew up in Eastbourne) play and even Novak Djokovic, who was a surprise entry.

The event is always particularly strong on women players. This year Johanna will be back and the sparkling women’s line up also includes world No.1 Simona Halep and No.2 Caroline Wozniacki who will be joined by defending champion Karolina Pliskova, reigning French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko and world No.8 Petra Kvitova. A further six players from the world’s top 20 – Julia Goerges, Angelique Kerber, Daria Kasatkina, Ash Barty, Magdalena Rybarikova and Anastasija Sevastova – will also be playing.

British No.1 Kyle Edmund will headline the men’s field that also includes Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman. See the full list of players here.  If you follow your tennis it’s good to know this is a WTA Premier level and ATP 250 level tournament.

There’s a steep rake on the seats on centre court so you get a fantastic view no matter where you are. There are the fun trappings of Wimbledon too like strawberries and champers on sale and a grassy area you can have a picnic and, if you have a grounds pass alone, watch the action on big screens. My brother took his boys along one year and they also had a good time soaking in the atmosphere.

What’s more children can get in free to the grounds and outer courts.

Devonshire Park is not far from the seafront and right next to the impressive Towner Gallery, so why not combine art and sport? Hurry for those tickets though, some have sold out already.

For tickets for the Nature Valley International Eastbourne and full details of the tournament see  lta.org.uk

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