For the fifth year Sunderland's Silksworth Community Pool, Tennis and Wellness Centre plays host to the under-twelve girl's finals of the annual Tennis Winter Cup (8-10 Feb) which has helped launch the careers of some of the world's greatest tennis players since the first competition was held in 1977.

Sponsored by the international sports equipment manufacturer Head, the top eight teams in Europe will compete in three days of top-class international junior girl's tennis. The event culminates with the winners crowned European champions before the closing ceremony on Sunday afternoon (10 Feb).

The teams taking part are Great Britain, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, France, Romania, Russia, Slovakia and Ukraine with representatives from the tennis association of each country joining their players and coaching staff for the opening ceremony performed by the Mayor of Sunderland, Councillor Lynda Scanlan at 9.30am on Friday 8 Feb.

Each team will be led out into the main sports hall by pupils from Thorney Close Primary School, to be welcomed by their national anthems, with the flag of each country displayed proudly throughout the tournament.

Competitors will receive a civic welcome from Mayor Cllr Scanlan, along with local ward councillors and community sport partners.

Cllr Scanlan said: "As Mayor of Sunderland I am proud to welcome this prestigious competition back to our city. This is one of the most important tournaments in international tennis and the event has produced some of the world's greatest players over the years.

"I'd like to thank tournament partners Tennis Europe, the Lawn Tennis Association and international sponsors Head for chosing us again to host this fantastic event.

" It's testament to Sunderland's proven ability to successfully stage high profile sporting and cultural events, and I'm sure we'll see some future superstars competing at Silksworth Community Pool, Tennis & Wellness Centre over the course of the competition."

Play will start each day at 9.30am and will finish at 3pm.Friday and Saturday and at around 2.30pm on Sunday. The event is free of charge for spectators with no booking required and free car parking available.

Since it was launched in 1977 the annual Tennis Winter Cup sponsored by Head, has developed and grown to become the sport's most important indoor junior team tennis competition. Some of the biggest names in world tennis have graduated through the junior ranks of boy's and girl's tennis into adult competition.

Britain's most successful player Andy Murray along with fellow international Tennis superstars  Rafa Nadal and  Roger Federer have previously competed as juniors, while  Laura Robson and Victoria Azarenka also appeared in the competition during their early careers

Head of Events at Sunderland City Council, Victoria French added: "It's fantastic for the city and the region that the 2019 Finals are being held in Sunderland, with our partners at Everyone Active managing this fantastic tennis facility on behalf of the City Council.

"Our city has a proud history of delivering world class international tennis events, and I am sure that all the teams competing will have a great experience during their stay with us and spectators will enjoy watching some amazing matches between potential superstars."

"I hope seeing the tennis superstars of the future in action at the Tennis Centre, will encourage more young people to try out the excellent facilities and tennis coaching sessions available in Sunderland, and provide a sporting legacy for future generations."