Fervent months of preparation at Country Time Club of Palermo to set up the twenty-sixth edition of the big show in July with some of the best tennis players in the world. On the program of the International WTA Sicily, the only Italian tournament of world tennis circuit after the Roma’ one. An event that this year has also seen an increase in the prize money from 220,000 $ to 235,000 $. Not only a sporting event, but also a great vehicle of attraction and tourism promotion. No longer just sun and sea as reference sources to Sicily, according to the traditional slogans, but also a lot of sport and entertainment, on the red clay courts of Country Time Club. A great tennis tournamen that gathered the great traditions of women’s tennis in Palermo started in 1935 with the first international women’s championships at La Favorita. A classic which also coincides with the week when Palermo is mobilized for his “Festino”, the feast in honor of the patron Saint Rosalia. Hence an event in the event, when the city offers a diverse range of cultural, social and sporting entertainment.
Mondello, sport in summer
The female tournament of the WTA Tour that will take place on the clay courts of the Country from July 6th to 14th is now the most important sporting fixed event, qualitatively more relevant in the sicilian summer. Since the late 80’s it has filled the void left by the classic events which characterized summer in the nearby beach of Mondello, once rich of volleyball tournaments and basketball in particular. Nowadays, for a week, clay courts and the contiguous “Hospitality Village” of the Country, are living the exciting challenges of the professional players and furthermore shows and artists of great fame and notoriety. Afternoons and nights to spend between tennis and entertainment, with thousands of spectators each day in the great structure of Palermo. But not just tennis keens in Sicily, also many Italian and foreign tourists attracted by a strong promotion of the event, and by all the accommodation facilities in the city, but also because of a range of effective sports-holiday packages, launched through agreements with various tour operators. Packages from three to seven days including travel, accommodation and entrance to Country Time Club courts. And in terms of tourism promotion abroad, note the agreements reached for some years to this part with international media agencies that have secured the television rights for the tournament. For several years, the images of Palermo matches have been transmitted by television in several countries, from Chile to Mexico, Russia, Holland, England, Spain. And of course in Italy, for the whole duration of the event, through the thematic channel “Supertennis” (channel 224 on Sky platform) that even for the next edition will be at Country Club.
Quality in the tournament
Though the event is part of the series of tournaments in the WTA Tour for the lower segment of the prize amount ($ 235,000), over the years has always been distinguished for the high quality of the participants. An emblematic fact. Performing on the “Viale dell’Olimpo” courts in the past 25 years, were a good six players who in their careers have reached the number one in the world ranking. From the Spaniard Arantxa Sanchez, to the American Jennifer Capriati; from the Serbian Jelena Jankovic to the Russian Dinara Safina; from the Belgian Justine Henin to the Danish Caroline Wozniacki. These names had already well established when they played the tournament of the Country, but also players virtually unknown, wich after having played in Palermo have also reached the World Summit. By continuing on this level, over 25 tennis players of the world top ten, have made a great spectacle during these decades. And what about the Italian players present in Palermo? All the very best of the “open” era left a mark. From early Raffaella Reggi and Sandra Cecchini, to Silvia Farina, Rita Grande and Tathiana Garbin, ending up to the marvelous “pink quartet” world champions, Francesca Schiavone, Flavia Pennetta, Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci. Two of these four players entered in the gold list of the event: Sara Errani,as the first Italian, winning in the 2008 edition, repeating her victory in 2012 and Flavia Pennetta who imposed his talent in 2009.
The other side of Tennis. For a long time in the diversification of the shows offered during the week, the leadership of the Country Time Club has included additional events to enrich the program of the tennis event. In the “Hospitality Village” singers, dancers, ethnical musicians, jugglers and street artists have found their space to perform. In the last two years there have been a great full house with two events to open the program. On the central court of the Country, then returned the next day at tennis players, the singer Antonello Venditti and the most loved by young people pianist Giovanni Allevi have made a great show for an audience of about 3.500 fans. Last year was the turn of the italian singer Anna Tatangelo.
The almost global air of crisis could not but be heard even on the great tennis event in Palermo. «Setting up the tournament in the last few years – says the president of the country club, Giorgio Cammarata – has not been easy. Despite public contributions more and more reduced year after year and the contractions of the budget of private companies, we are working hard to setting up for the next July an edition worthy of the past successes. We hope to have always by our side prestigious sponsors as in the past that are our source of pride. Season by season we have found increasingly difficults to cover the costs of an event that exceeds 500,000 €. But our tenacity to respect the traditions and keep alive a sporting event envied by many organizations has been stronger. We will continue to make sacrifices until the city – therefore tennis fans – and public and private institutions manifest their willingness to support a tennis event of great international importance». «If it gets less than this, we will be forced with great regret to pass the buck. It is soon to know the list of players registered to the 2013 edition – adds the tournament director, Oliviero Palma – but from current contacts with players, their manager and the association of professional tennis players, we are more than confident that we can offer a luxury edition and in line with the features of this tournament, defined a launching pad for young girls waiting to take the flight towards the high peaks of the world rankings. As it was for the various players Pierce, Dementieva, Myskina, Zvonareva, Henin, Wozniacki. For sure we can count on the attachment to this tournament of Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci, today the first two Italian female tennis players. And Sara Errani has already chosen Palermo between the only two $ 235,000 tournaments which can play according to the rules of the WTA».
The gold book
These are the final matches of the last decade:
2012 Errani-Zhavalova Strycova
2011 Medina Garrigues-Hercog
2006 Medina Garrigues-Garbin
2005 Medina Garrigues-Koukalova
2004 Medina Garrigues-Pennetta
2002 Diaz Oliva-Zvonareva
2001 Medina Garrigues-Torrens Valero
The Spaniard Anabel Medina Garrigues with her success achieved in 2011, led to five her victories in the Palermo tournament equaling the record of Venus Williams between the players in active, winning five titles in the same event.