Grand Champions – McEnroe Out – Courier In

Fellow countryman, Jim Courier, will replace John McEnroe at this year’s Vale do Lobo Grand Champions tennis tournament. The line-up for this year’s competition, played out between August 3 and August 6, was announced at a press conference chaired by the head of the Vale do Lobo Group, Sander van Gelder.

Dutch player Richard Krajicek, the winner of 17 titles, is the youngest contender at 32. Other contenders are former Wimbledon champion and last year’s Vale do Lobo champion, Michael Stich. Also included are Spain’s Emilio Sanchez, Britain’s Jeremy Bates, who won the 2001 Vale do Lobo event, and Portuguese player, João Cunha e Silva. Two of the most entertaining players from last year’s event are also returning – Frenchmen Henri Leconte and Yannick Noah. But the biggest name to grace the court at Vale do Lobo in this year’s competition is probably that of 33-year old Courier, the winner of 23 titles.

Sander van Gelder also announced his intention to make a five million euro investment, to construct four more courts, in a bid to make the Vale do Lobo tennis arena the “finest tennis centre in Europe” and “the Algarve’s Wimbledon”.

The event will close with the traditional summer party, attended by Yannick Noah, who will play in his band alongside Courier. The party will also feature a fashion show with top models from Holland. Tournament director Pedro Frazão said: “All the conditions are there for another successful event.” Frazão explained to The Resident that John McEnroe’s absence was not intentional. “I spoke to him on the phone last weekend and he really wanted to come again – unfortunately he has television commitments that week. But he said he would like to participate next year.”