The Australian WTA tennis Hobart International concluded just before the Australian Open 2019 commenced and the 20-year old American woman, Sofia Kenin was declared the champion this year. Kenin uplifted her first WTA title in the Tasmanian capital, Hobart.
The Tasmanian WTA tennis player, Angie Cunningham (nee Woolcock) was ranked World Number two on the junior circuit and she also reached the Australian Open and Wimbledon junior girls’ doubles finals. In the year 1994, the Launceston-born, Cunningham competed in the inaugural of her hometown tournament, Hobart International. In 1996 she retired from tennis and joined WTA in the year 2000. She served WTA for 10 years and she was also appointed as the Vice President of Player Relations and On-Site Operations. She was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND) in the year 2012. And eventually, at the age of 43, Cunningham lost her life in 2016. The Australian ATP men, Brad Drewett and Peter Doohan also died due to MND.
In Angie’s memory, WTA Charities support FightMND, an organisation serving the purpose of finding effective treatments and ultimately a cure for Motor Neurone Disease. “To coincide with the 25th edition of our event, we felt there was no greater way to honour a legendary Tasmanian tennis identity who was respected globally,” the Tournament Director Darren Sturgess mentioned. “Tennis Australia is an official partner of FightMND, a charity many tennis fans, players and staff can resonate with. At Hobart International this year, we are proud to be helping promote the summer tennis campaign, Smash MND in an effort to raise awareness of the debilitating disease that has affected so many, including Angie.”
The trophy at Hobart International in the honour of the Tasmanian player, Cunningham. The WTA trophy has been redesigned with the inputs from Tennis Tasmania and the University of Tasmania. It depicts an art design inspired by a female forehand stroke, created by Launceston-based designer Anita Dineen. The WTA’s Australian tournaments, Brisbane, Sydney, and Hobart teamed up with WTA4Love (WTA’s global philanthropic organization) to make a donation to FightMND, ultimately funding FightMND’s research work. After the conclusion of the final in Hobart, Angie’s two daughters aged 12 and 9, presented the Angie Cunningham Trophy to the champion, Kenin.