New Capital tennis tournament venue to banish rain

HOLDING a four-day tennis tournament in Edinburgh and expecting it not to rain? You cannot be serious.

HOLDING a four-day tennis tournament in Edinburgh and expecting it not to rain? You cannot be serious.

While the Capital may not have an enclosed tennis venue to rival Wimbledon, the city’s weather has not deterred the organisers of Brodies Champions of Tennis competition.

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Instead they have commissioned a specially designed domed roof to ensure an ­outdoor venue in Stockbridge can be used for top-class tennis this June in a tournament which will feature some of the sport’s most successful names.

Tournament director Viki Mendelssohn spent six months researching possibilities before choosing Wiltshire-based engineering firm Airsculpt to build the roof for a temporary 2500-seater stadium at the home of Edinburgh Accies in Raeburn Place.

Organisers have refused to disclose the cost of the ­state-of-the-art structure, which will provide cover for players but not spectators.

Airsculpt’s commercial director Darren Farrell said: “This is probably the most unusual project we have ever taken on.

“When we were asked to provide a temporary demountable and reusable roof structure to cover an entire open air tennis court in Edinburgh, one of the UK’s famously windy ­cities, we knew we had to come up with an innovative ­engineering concept.

“It’s was an incredibly ­complex feat.

“One of the biggest problems was the size of this structure, which is to act as a shelter but is open to wind, and has no foundations to anchor it down. And because it was for use on a rugby field it needed to be removed without causing ­damage.”

Among the legends to appear at the championship, which this year makes its Scottish debut, are Tim Henman and Goran Ivanisevic – who will re-enact a famous Wimbledon semi-final on the opening day – John McEnroe, Greig Rusedski and Mark Philippoussis.

Previous plans to hold the tournament at Inverleith Park were ruled out due to flooding issues.

Viki Mendelssohn said a solution to coping with poor weather had to be found if the championship was to come to Scotland.

She said: “It’s only a four-day tournament and we can’t afford to have any days rained off.

“After a year of speaking to people and trawling the ­internet the guys at Airsculpt were definitely the best company to be able to support us.”

The intention is to return to Stockbridge for a further two years with plans to roll the championship out indefinitely if it proves successful, so the roof, which will be kept in ­storage, will be re-used.

“This is the first time a stadia of this nature has been built in Scotland so it is another first for the event,” said Viki.

The stadia will have its first showcase on Thursday June 20.

To compete on the ATP Champions Tour, players must have been either a World No 1 during their competitive ­playing careers, a Grand Slam singles finalist, or a singles player in a victorious Davis Cup team – although two wild cards are allowed.

EventScotland and Edinburgh City Council are ­contributing £100,000 to ­staging the event.