In its inaugural year of 2002, the Boodle and Dunthorne Champions Challenge (now The Boodles Challenge) quickly established itself as one of the ‘must attend’ summer social gatherings, giving guests the opportunity to mingle at close quarters with the world’s tennis elite.
In only its second year the tournament saw Mark Philippoussis lifting the BDCC trophy before going on to appear in the Wimbledon final two weeks later. In 2004, the Champions Challenge provided four days of riveting tennis, with Andy Roddick and Wimbledon Champion Goran Ivanisevic entertaining the fortunate guests.
Due to the growing popularity ‘The Boodles’ saw a fifth day added in 2005 and an elite group of world-class players gathered to contest the title, including Tim Henman, Greg Rusedski and in a special exhibition match defending Wimbledon Champion Maria Sharapova. Andre Agassi’s multiple appearances in 2006 were a highlight as he prepared for his farewell appearance at Wimbledon.
With sell-out crowds in 2007, and appearances from world class performers Novak Djokovic and Fernando Verdasco, the event was clearly becoming a fixture in the calendar of the tennis elite. The Boodles 2008 continued to deliver on the high standards now expected of the showpiece Wimbledon warm up event, showcasing arguably its strongest field to date. Guests were again treated as Andy Murray elected to complete his Wimbledon preparation at Stoke Park alongside his other top 10 rivals Novak Djokovic and David Nalbandian, all under the watchful eye of Alan Mills, Wimbledon referee for 23 years.
2009 saw The Boodles Challenge cement its place on the social calendar by hosting world-class tennis on the beautifully manicured lawns of Stoke Park for the eighth consecutive year. Guests in The Players Enclosure, Legends Enclosure and Stadium and Garden Pass holders were not only treated to the beautiful surroundings in a relaxed atmosphere, but also explosive performances from Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, World number 2 Novak Djokovic and top 10 player Nikolay Davydenko throughout the week. The final was considered equally gripping and the title taken by German number 1 Philipp Kohlschreiber.
With four of the world's top ten players competing in 2010, tennis aficionados recognized the unique opportunity at The Boodles to get up close to their heroes with record crowds attending for finals weekend.
Guests were able to take a leisurely stroll by the practice courts whilst the stars went through their final preparations for their matches on stadium court just metres away. ATP World Tour champion Nikolay Davydenko, World number 2 Novak Djokovic and Spanish heartthrob Fernando Verdasco competed admirably, with French sensation Gael Monfils eventually lifting the Boodles trophy in the 9th year of the event.
2011 welcomed guests back to Stoke Park for the 10th anniversary of The Boodles and were treated to arguably the strongest player field to date. World number 1 Novak Djokovic, British Number 1 Andy Murray, US Open Champion Juan Martin Del Potro and World Number 5 David Ferrer were joined by the French trio Gilles Simon, Gael Monfils and Richard Gasquet as well as Spaniard Fernando Verdasco. Boodles favorite and former Wimbledon finalist David Nalbandian contested the championship match with David Ferrer before an impromptu opera performance on stadium court celebrating 10 years of the event.
Record crowds attended The Boodles in 2012 and through the week saw 11 of the world's top 20 players perform on the Wimbledon specification grass courts. Since 2002 The Boodles has had the pleasure of welcoming some of the biggest stars in tennis history, but 2012 showcased arguably the strongest player field to date. For five action packed days, the game's elite went head to head on stadium court in front of sold out spectators.
The Boodles 2013 saw no fewer than five of the best men in the world, including the only appearance beyond the courts of Wimbledon itself by the top man, the world No1, Novak Djokovic.
It was on these lawns in 2011 that Djokovic fine-tuned his grass game on his way to winning the Wimbledon title and securing the No1 ranking for the first time.
One of the most entertaining matches of the week was between the World No.1, as he took on Grigor Dimitrov. Djokovic was in a playful mood, joking between points and demanding that Dimitrov take his shirt off for the excitable female fans in the crowd. Something they will not forget in a hurry!
With 3 out of 4 Wimbledon semi-finalists having been in attendance at Stoke Park, the mood was light but the tennis was taxing enough to stretch the sinews and raise the heart-rate—and the grass was pristine enough to test both footwork and timing. It is of little wonder that so many of the players relieve the pressure of their Wimbledon training schedule with this fun-packed but match-sharpening competition.