Sandra Reichel: "We are more than just a tennis tournament"

World-class tennis - Largest initiative for young talent - " Business & Sports" Year-round promotion of women - Wheelchair tennis show match

Linz, 05. 11. 2021 - "Austria's most important women's sporting event!" The "Upper Austria Ladies Linz" has fought hard for this title. At the 31st edition of the WTA tournament from 6 to 12 November in the TipsArena, tournament director Sandra Reichel is taking the event to new heights: True to her motto "We are more than just a tennis tournament", a unique variety of programmes will be on offer, ranging from world-class tennis with Emma Raducanu and Simona Halep at the forefront to the largest junior initiative in Austria (1,000 rackets for 1,000 girls), awards for successful tennis talents, special support for women in business and sport and a show match between the best domestic wheelchair tennis players. A programme that is unparalleled on the WTA Tour!
Prominent guests from politics (Vice-Chancellor and Sports Minister Werner Kogler and Women's Minister Susanne Raab will be guests for the first time), business, culture and sport will not want to miss "Upper Austria Ladies Linz 2021". And the interest of British journalists is greater than ever before. Why do you think? They want to experience "Radu-Mania" in Austrian! In her home country, 18-year-old Emma Raducanu has triggered huge hype with her sensational US Open triumph and the British are crazy about Emma. Tournament director Sandra Reichel and tournament ambassador Barbara Schett are also fascinated by the shooting star. "Winning a Grand Slam tournament changes your life in an instant, I know that from stories told by Mats Wilander and Boris Becker. Both were younger than Emma when they won their first Grand Slam tournament. At that young age, it's not so easy to deal with the newfound popularity." Babsi Schett believes that the charming, down-to-earth Emma Raducanu will not be overwhelmed by her role as the "nation's favourite".
But it's also a fact that as the current US Open winner, Emma Raducanu is no longer a nobody! It's quite possible that it will be more difficult for her to win in Linz than in New York! Because the competition is high-calibre, from world star Simona Halep to Danielle Collins.
"Of course, the location of Linz is of particular importance to us," emphasises Tournament Director Sandra Reichel. "I would particularly like to thank Mayor Luger and Deputy Mayoress Hörzing for their extraordinary support, especially in these times, which are particularly affected by the coronavirus pandemic." The "Upper Austria Ladies Linz" is the second oldest women's indoor tournament in the world and is known for its particularly warm atmosphere, for being a tournament of short distances and for its extremely emotional audience. The fact that Austria's most important women's sporting event is held here is certainly also an honour for the city of Linz. This positioning will be supported this year by a wide range of activities, including the launch of the "Ladies in Business & Sports" initiative away from the centre court.

Wildcard is a "special motivation" for Julia Grabher   

What role will Austria's women's tennis play at the home event in Linz? The hopes are pinned on a player from Vorarlberg, as Austria's number one at the "Upper Austria Ladies 2021" is Julia Grabher. The 25-year-old has received the first wild card awarded by tournament director Sandra Reichel for the 31st Linz women's tennis classic. Julia Grabher's first reaction was: "Oh, I'm so happy that Sandra has given me a wildcard for the main event! I've always loved playing in Linz, and you're even more motivated in front of a home crowd. Especially this year, of course." Sandra Reichel had words of praise for Grabher: "Julia's development is going forward - I'm delighted to see that! Unfortunately, she had bad luck with injuries at our tournament last year when she had to retire after a furious start to the match."       

As a reminder: last year, Julia Grabher faced Romania's Sorana Cirstea in the opening round of the second oldest women's indoor tournament in the world. The aim was to get through the first round in Linz for the first time. In the previous year, the army athlete lost 4:6, 2:6 to Slovakia's Viktoria Kuzmova in the opening round. Grabher had failed in the first round of qualifying in each of the years 2014 to 2017. In 2020, it initially looked as though Julia Grabher might finally achieve her goal against the favourite Sorana Cirstea. The player from Vorarlberg was leading 3:2 with a break, but then had to withdraw due to an ankle injury!
Julia Grabher experienced the highlight of her 2021 season in the spring: The ÖTV top player won the title at the ITF clay court tournament in Bellinzona in Ticino, which is endowed with 60,000 US dollars, with a 6:2 and 6:3 final triumph against the Italian Lucia Bronzetti, thus securing her biggest success on the ITF tour to date.

Premiere at the "Upper Austria Ladies Linz": wheelchair tennis on the centre court

For tournament director Sandra Reichel, it has been a long-held wish to integrate wheelchair tennis into the tournament programme. "I really want to show tennis in all its diversity. It's no coincidence that our new Ladies.In Business & Sports initiative also includes the topic of inclusion. This year's show match on Thursday, 11 November at 3.15 pm will add an important item to the programme of Austria's most important women's sporting event," says the tournament director, who is already looking forward to this premiere, in which Austria's best players Christina Pesendorfer (32) from Bad Ischl and Vanessa Jenewein (30) from Innsbruck will play a show match with two WTA players.