The Summer of Tennis officially begins in Brisbane on the 4th of January with the Brisbane International kicking off the Australian open series, and as Queensland's biggest tennis tournament, it's an event that seems to be getting bigger and better each year.
My visit to the Brisbane International in 2013 for the men's final with Andy Murray and Grigor Dimitrov left me impressed at the relaxed and well-coordinated event at the Queensland Tennis Centre. Sure, it's nothing on the mega complex that is Melbourne Park, but every seat in the intimate 5500 seat Pat Rafter Arena has amazing views of the players, so you'll feel immensely part of the action. My eyesight can be suspect at best, and even without specs sitting mid way in the stands, I had no problem seeing whether the ball was in or out.
Roger Federer and other tennis royalty descend on Brisbane again. If you've ever wanted to get up close and personal with the stars of the tennis circuit, this is your chance
This year, the big names of the international tennis circuit are returning with the likes of Hewitt, Sharapova and the Fed-Express joining in the action. Will it be another epic showdown with Hewitt beating Federer in the grand final as he did in 2014? I sat spellbound watching the TV wishing I was there as Hewitt claimed his first singles title since 2010. We'll have to find out whether we'll see a repeat of last year, but either way, there's going to be no shortage of great competition.
Other big names in the Men's and Women's singles draw include the serving prowess of the Canadian 'cannon' Milos Raonic, and crowd favourite and beauty extravaganza, Ana Ivanovic. It's pretty much tennis royalty converging here in Brisbane between January 4-11. Last year a record 105,000 plus fans attended the event and this year is expected to build on the success. This is evident by the fact more top 25 players have chosen to play at the Brisbane International despite another ATP event being held in Doha during the same period with more than double the prize money.
Book a day session or night session as the players take centre stage on Pat Rafter Arena
There will again be plenty happening off the court on the outside lawn around Pat Rafter Arena in Tennyson including games, merchandise tents, outside lawn with lounge chairs and big screen and media sponsors Nova 106.9 and Channel 7 media providing live broadcasts, roving entertainment and giveaways galore. There's also plenty of food and drink stands and I can personally attest to the deliciousness of enjoying a refreshing Pimms from the Pimms Bar while watching the Tennis. There's also Corona, Siromet Wine, and mojitios so you can find a tipple to tickle your fancy.
Some of the action outside the courts from the 2013 event.
The first day of the tournament on January 4 will be the Suncorp Kids Tennis Day welcoming young tennis fans and encouraging them to have the chance to meet their favourite players. Other activities include face painting, rock climbing, a jumping castle, fastest serve competition and roving entertainment with all attendees under 16 receiving a free show bag to take home. Chart-toppers Justice Crew will also perform live alongside favourite Nickelodeon characters including Sponge Bob Square pants in the school holiday line up. Get there early and you'll also have the chance to watch some of the players practice on the outside courts.
Justice Crew will perform live on the Suncorp Kids Day on January 4
With ground passes starting at $17.90 (does not include entry to Pat Rafter Arena) and $46.90 for first round single session tickets, there are plenty of affordable reasons to get down to the Brisbane Tennis centre between January 4-11 to get up close and personal with the stars of the tennis world.
This is really a terrific tournament. As you say Julian, the views of play in Pat Rafter Arena are excellent. My daughters bought a ground pass last year and saw Federer, Dimitrov and many others playing doubles matches on outside courts and even ended up with one of Dimitrov's sweatbands as a souvenir. It was a great day's entertainment - not bad for less than $20.