RISING British star Jay Clarke has given the thumbs up to the $250,000 Aegon Ilkley Trophy.

The third staging of the grass-court tournament attracted crowds that were 20 per cent up, while record numbers of schoolchildren also attended the on-site outreach coaching programme

Midlander Clarke, who is 19 later this month and has been coming to the club for several years, reached the quarter-finals of the singles at the $150,000 ATP Challenger, as well as playing doubles with Marcus Willis in preparation for Wimbledon.

Clarke said: “The organisers have put a lot of time and money into this tournament, and the rewards from the investment are obvious to see - the event just gets better every year.”

A total of 7,500 spectators watched the nine-day bonanza, which also included a $100,000 ITF Women's Futures tournament, and household names taking part in a tournament that was barely affected by rain included Laura Robson, Willis and former world No 8 Jurgen Melzer.

Tournament director Charlie Maunder said: "We’ve seen a 20 per cent increase in spectators to the Aegon Ilkley Trophy this year and we’ve welcomed hundreds of players – some already household names like Laura Robson and Marcus Willis – and some who will almost certainly make their mark in the very near future.

"It has been a pleasure from day one of qualifying to the final serve on Centre Court, and I look forward to welcoming everyone back again in 2018.

“It means such a lot to these players that they play well here, not just for what’s on stake in Ilkley but in how it positions them in the run up to Wimbledon.”

In addition, as well as being an excellent opportunity for audiences to see professional tennis up close, the tournament and club also offered the chance for schools from across the region to get involved, and this year a record-breaking 2,000 children from 54 local schools took part.

Meanwhile, a further 350 young people attended open days, taking advantage of the facilities and free coaching sessions.

Ilkley Lawn Tennis & Squash Club are staging three other tournaments this summer in their Festival of Tennis - County Week (July 24-28), the Ilkley Open (July 29-August 6) and an upgraded Aegon British Tour event (August 1-6).