ILKLEY Lawn Tennis & Squash Club's Challenger event has been given a ten-year contract extension.

The current contract for the pre-Wimbledon tournament expires next year, but, following successful negotiations, the joint ATP and ITF event has been awarded a new contract which runs until 2027.

Even allowing for the fact that the LTA have a break clause in the contract in 2022, which gives the event a minimum of five years, this is a massive show of confidence in a tournament which has only been running - as the Aegon Ilkley Trophy - for three years.

Also the Lawn Tennis Association has provided the majority of the funding for the £200,000 overhaul of all the club's grass courts, which started in August, plus the building of three additional grass courts.

Ilkley Lawn Tennis & Squash Club state on their website: "May we thank everyone who has made our tournament - a world-class event - so special for both players and spectators alike.

"Overall it's (the contract extension) wonderful news for Yorkshire, Ilkley and, of course, our club.

"The Challenger generates significant income for the club, which we use to pay the loans for the development, and on specific projects such as refurbishing all the squash courts in 2016 and a major upgrade of the gym equipment in 2017.

"The event brings world-class tennis to our doorstep, engages with the local community, attracts and benefits over 200 volunteers, engages over 100 ball kids from Ilkley Grammar School, includes an outreach programme that puts a racket in the hand of just under 2,000 schoolchildren from throughout Yorkshire, raises the profile of Ilkley both locally and nationally and cements our status as the premier tennis club in the North of England."

While the tournament in general has been a big success, the only downside has been the occasional negative comment from players about the uneven quality of the grass courts, hence the upgrade.

The club added: "A world-class event needs world-class courts.

"Specifically the works will include stripping, levelling, loam dressing and re-seeding all existing grass courts, plus three new grass courts will be constructed to the east of the existing courts (in the grassed car park).

"One new court will have drainage and inflatable covers, similar to those on Centre (Court) and Court One.

"Alongside the works, the LTA are also funding specialist support from one of the top groundsmen in the country, Dave Laurence from Edgbaston Priory.

"He will be assisting Richard Lord in providing the best possible surface.

"A significant long-term advantage of the new courts is that it will allow members to play on grass prior to the Challenger.

"The three new courts will encroach into the field which will reduce the parking capacity, admittedly only relevant during tournament week.

"The club plans to mitigate this by providing new parking to the east of the access road and by the removal of the existing large earth mound, which is ultimately destined as infill for the riverbed scheme.

"Four trees will have to be removed as part of the preparation works for the new courts, and the club plans to plant new trees in the vicinity and around other parts of the grounds."