Russian star Vera Zvonareva who is the top seed at the US$220,000 PTT Pattaya Open, WTA professional women tennis tournament flew into Thailand last weekend to begin early preparations for this year’s tournament, which is being staged at the Dusit Thani Hotel, Pattaya from 5–12 February.
Zvonareva, who is ranked No 7 in the world, was an early arrival at the PTT Pattaya Open flying in directly from Melbourne where she had been competing in the Australian Open Doubles Final, which she won with playing partner and compatriot Svetlana Kuznetsova.
Zvonareva will be competing here for the fourth successive year and won back titles in 2009 and 2010 and was a semi-finalist last year. She is foregoing Fed Cup duty to concentrate on winning back her title which she lost to Daniela Hantuchova last year.
Another early arrival this year is fellow Russian Maria Kirilenko, currently ranked No 29 in the world, who flew in on the same flight as Zvonareva last Saturday.
Meanwhile, the tournament committee has announced that they have given 2 promising local teenagers the opportunity to play in the tournament by giving them wild cards into the qualifying round. The 2 players are Tanaporn Thongsing and Nattawadee Kotcha. Both players are coming out of the junior ranks and will have the opportunity to test their skills against more experienced opposition in Pattaya. They will join Varatchaya Wongteanchai and Nudnida Luangnam in the 16-strong qualifying draw which will be held on 5–6 February.
Other top players lined up to appear at this year’s event include the defending champion Daniela Hantuchova, Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia, India’s Sania Mirza, and Zhang Jie of China. Britain’s former junior Wimbledon champion Laura Robson will also be joining the line-up for the first time along with compatriots Heather Watson and Anne Keothavong.
Local interest will be spearheaded by the experienced Tamarine Tanasugarn who will be appearing for the 18th successive year in Pattaya after reaching 2 finals in 1996 and 2010 and will be looking to go one better this year.
The main draw matches commence on 6 February with play starting from 15.00 daily until the semi-finals on Saturday 11 February and the finals on Sunday 12 February, which will begin at 16.00. Tickets are available at 300, 500, 800 and 1,200 baht.
For more information on the tournament and tickets, please contact Pentangle Promotions Co., Ltd at Tel: 02-3113414/5 or via the website at www.pentanglepromotions .com or through ThaiTicket Major Co., Ltd at 02-2623456 or website www.thaiticketmajor.com.