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Tennis at Queen's Club: a perfect aperitif for Wimbledon

DEBUT: Jay Clarke

WITH WIMBLEDON fast approaching, there are several warm-up events before the Grand Slam in SW19. It means tennis fans dusting down their picnic baskets and chairs to join the long queues once again.

For the uninitiated, The Queen’s Club Championships is an annual tournament hosting the most exciting names in male singles and doubles tennis. For the first time, men’s wheelchair tennis matches are included.

The grass courts are in leafy West Kensington, London. Currently, known as the Fever-Tree Championships for sponsorship reasons, the competition runs from 18 - 24 June.

Queen’s Club is steeped in long history and tradition. It is one of the most prestigious Men’s grass court tournaments, as well as one of the oldest. The tournament is smaller than Wimbledon and known for its accessibility to the players.

The first thing to know when visiting Queen’s Club is taking public transport to the venue is recommended. There are no public car parks on site. The closest Underground stations are Parsons Green and West Kensington, on the District Line. The club is not far from Central London.

There is plenty of signs and stewards for help. Entry to the ground is via two entrances and the venue is not difficult to miss walking from the stations. You will see the crowds. Plus, the tall Centre Court stand is wrapped in colourful Fever-Tree branding, visible from a distance.

Once through security, walking around The Queen’s Club today reminds me why this is one of my favourites. The tournament takes place across three courts, which look immaculate, green and lush. Along with several smaller practice courts, this is one of the ways for spectators to see players up close. Plenty of hospitality choices with Strawberries and cream on tap too.

There are quality players to watch. For 134 years, this tournament has played host to some of the best tennis players. This year is the strongest line up ever, with 14 of the world’s best 30 are taking part.

Not only 2014 winner Grigor Dimitrov from the Top 10 signed up to play in the competition. Others included last year’s finalist Marin Cilic and Britain’s number one Kyle Edmund.

There’s an opportunity to see established players return to the grass after injury: Stan Wawrinka and Andy Murray. Big name players ensure large crowd attendance throughout the week.

In this sport, there is nothing more compelling than an up and coming player exploding on to the scene. Nick Kyrgios and Canada’s Dennis Shapovalov are leading the new era. In fact, Britain’s Jay Clarke made his debut on the first day of Queens, as the 19-year-old from Derby received a wildcard to allow him entry into the competition.

He faced off against one of the fastest servers on the tour Sam Querrey,
Ranked 14th in the world, Querrey beat current and former world number ones Rafael Nada, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray on the tour.

Despite a blistering performance from Clarke, the American swept to victory just over an hour. The Derby native coped well with last year’s Wimbledon semi-finalist but lost 6-3 6-3.

Altogether, a day out at the Fever-Tree Championships can appeal to a wide spectrum of people. From the tennis purist to the someone who want to experience a classic British iconic event. It’s a great opportunity see world class players playing. Likewise, the event has fantastic heritage and history too.

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