British tennis star James Ward is looking forward to his first match in six months when he steps on court at The Shrewsbury Club today.
Davis Cup winner Ward, who turned 31 on Friday, has been drawn against Spanish player Andres Artunedo Martinavarro in the first round of the Budgen Motors GB Pro-Series after being handed a wild card to the $25,000 tournament.
Ward, who is beginning his comeback following knee surgery, attended a civic reception to launch the event at the Featherbed Lane headquarters of Budgen Motors last night.
He’s pleased to be back in action for the first time since playing at a tournament in China last August.
Ward, ranked as high as 89 in the world in 2015, said: “It’s nice to be at home and playing my first tournament at Shrewsbury, somewhere I’ve never been before, so I’m looking forward to it.”
London-born Ward has been training hard, but stressed nothing compares to playing competitive matches.
“I’ve been back a couple of months, but nothing replicates playing matches and that’s why it’s a good stepping stone for me to start,” he said. “At the moment it’s my first match in six months, so it will be rusty, but I’ll just try and get through and see what happens.”
Ward said he had been made to feel welcome since arriving in Shrewsbury and he’s impressed with the quality of the players lining up in the town this week as he plays in his first Futures tournament for some time.
He said: “It’s just great for Shrewsbury that they get so many good players.”
Ward will be fourth on court four today, with his match not due to start before 3.30pm.
The first round action on the Sundorne Road venue’s indoor courts will get under way at 10.30am with 16 singles matches to be played.
Brit Marcus Willis, runner-up in Shrewsbury last year, will face Switzerland’s Adrien Bossel, while Ed Corrie, who reached the Shrewsbury final in 2016 and is seeded five this week, has been drawn against British qualifier George Houghton.
Lloyd Glasspool and Jonathan Gray will contest an all-British tie, while top seed Joris De Loore, from Belgium, faces British qualifier Jack Findel-Hawkins.
Admission is free for spectators all week, including to Saturday’s singles final.