Photo: Paul ZimmerMonica Puig (PUR)
POITIERS, FRANCE: A strong field has entered the $100,000 ITF Pro Circuit tournament taking place in the west central France city. As of the entry deadline, 15 players ranked within the WTA’s Top 100 while the remaining seven direct acceptances ranked between No. 101-117.
Puerto Rican Fed Cup player Monica Puig is set to return to defend the title she won in 2012 whilst other notable entrants include 2010 champion Sofia Arvidsson (SWE) and Camila Giorgi, who reached the third round at this year’s Wimbledon before losing in two close sets to eventual champion Marion Bartoli and who also enjoyed a run to the last 16 of the US Open. Britain’s Heather Watson, who is still on the comeback trail from illness, and rising star 17-year-old Donna Vekic of Croatia have also entered the event.
The first ITF Pro Circuit tournament in Poitiers was held in 1996 offering $25,000 in prize money and was won by the top seed Noelle Van Lottum of France. Held each year since, the top seed has only claimed the title a further two times; 2001 and 2006.
Over the years a number of the game’s top names have been in action in Poitiers. In 1999 a 17-year-old Justine Henin progressed to the semifinals as an unseeded player, less than two years later she was contesting her first Grand Slam final at Wimbledon.
In the 2000 final, wild card entrant Iva Majoli, the 1997 Roland Garros champion and former WTA world No. 4, lost out to 1999 Fed Cup semifinalist Ludmila Cervanova. That same year Francesca Schiavone, who would later triumph in the 2010 Roland Garros final and also achieve a world No. 4 ranking, got as far as the second round.
The champion in 2002 was an unseeded 18-year-old called Marion Bartoli who would peak at No. 7 in the world and contest two Wimbledon finals, including winning the 2013 title. Bartoli would also feature in the 2005 tournament where she bowed out in round two as the top seed.
Maria Kirilenko was a quarterfinalist in 2004 and earlier this year broke into the WTA Top 10 for the first time.
Since becoming a $100,000 prize money level tournament back in 2007, the tournament has continued to feature big name players in action. In 2008, the 2006 ITF Junior World Champion and 2011 Fed Cup finalist Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova took the title, while 2009 and 2011 again saw former WTA world No. 4’s triumph with victories for Jelena Dokic and Kimiko Date-Krumm.
Date-Krumm’s 2011 title success was also the first time a player aged over 40 had claimed an ITF Pro Circuit title.
The main draw action in Poitiers gets underway on Monday 21 October.