For the last 20 years, the beginning of September in Banja Luka has been marked by tennis, i.e. the only challenger in this area, while this year one novelty will be introduced
and the 20th jubilee edition will be moved back for two weeks.
The competition at Srpska Open will start on the 22nd and will last until the 28th of August, and as before, 32 players will compete in the singles and 16 in the doubles. One
of the reasons for moving the dates is a large number of tournaments that were played in the same week, which led to a drop in quality. For example, last year during the same
week as in Banja Luka, challengers were held in Austrian Tulno, Spanish Seville, French Cassia and Ukrainian Kiev, some of which had much greater prize funds, so most tennis
players took part at them and bypassed the largest city of Republic of Srpska.
This year, in the same week as in Banja Luka, three challengers will be held – in Canada with a prize fund of $53,120, in Thailand ($37,520) and in Prague (€32,160), which
means that in the same period only two tournaments will be played on European soil.
The prize fund of the Srpska Open this year has been slightly increased and will amount to 45,730 euros, which should lead to an increased interest of players and drastically
increase the quality, while at the same time as this challenger, the ATP tournament from the 250 series will be played in the American Winston Salem, as well as the
qualifications for the US Open.
The President of the Republika Srpska Tennis Association, Drasko Milinovic, is proud that the tradition has continued and explained why the dates were moved.
The first thing that caused us to change the date was the weather conditions. We all know very well how much rain has disrupted the plans in the past and we don't want to
fear looking at the sky. Another thing is that it is a vacation period when there are many tourists in Banja Luka, and children do not go to school in that period, so it is easier to
find volunteers and ball kids, which ease the job for the organisers. At the same time, we want to raise the quality of the tournament to a higher level, and these new dates
are make that easier for us, while we got the ATP’s permission without any problems, said Milinovic, who was the tournament director last year.
Finals and the spotlights
Construction of the National Tennis Center of the Republic of Srpska and the installation of floodlights on the main court, raised the level of the challenger. Last year’s finals was
one of the most attended so far, it was played at night, and many spectators stayed outside the stadium because they couldn’t find a free seat in the stands.