As Wimbledon looms we look back on Liverpool International 2017

THE period when everybody in Britain becomes a tennis fan for a fortnight is upon us.

Wimbledon opens its gates on Monday, with Andy Murray starting his defence of his men’s singles title against a qualifier or a lucky loser the same day.

Mersey interest is provided by the Skupski brothers Ken and Neal, who takes part in the Men’s Doubles with an all British first round clash against Joe Salisbury and Brydan Klein.

But Liverpool International star Marcus Willis saw his dreams of a Wimbledon return dashed.

The Reds fan crashed out in the final qualifying round to Ukraine’s Illya Marchenko, missing out on a second consecutive appearance at Wimbledon.

Willis helped light up the 16th staging of Liverpool’s exhibition event, blessed this year by glorious weather.

Organisers Northern Vision started their promotional period in May with tennis in Liverpool One shopping centre, followed by promotional events in Hooton, Exchange Flags,

Paradise Street, Williamson Square and St Georges Park in Southport.

During the promotional tour organisers reached out to thousands of people, encouraging them to try out free tennis lessons and telling them about the event,

On Kids Day, which traditionally launches the event proper, more than 750 schoolchildren were invited to attend and introduced to the game, in addition to getting the opportunity to watch the qualifying finals, won by Adam Jones of the Wirral.

During the International nearly 2,000 corporate guests were catered for and entertained from all over the North West – making the International one of the largest outdoor corporate events in the region.

This year the event attracted coverage from BBC Breakfast TV, four slots providing positive publicity for Liverpool and title sponsor Liverpool Hope University.

The programme was angled on the health benefits conducted by the University in which tennis is proved to be an optimum sport for body and mind.

This same study has been quoted worldwide.

While the nation indulges its fortnightly obsession with tennis, Liverpool has already promoted the sport superbly.