Tennis will be the order of the week, with the Soweto Open beginning on Monday. International and local players are taking part.
ALL tennis roads will lead to the Arthur Ashe complex in Jabavu, Soweto from Monday 11 April, when the Soweto Opens serves up six days of tennis in the township.
Wild card: Raven KlaasenThe Soweto Open is an Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) tournament. It is organised by the City of Johannesburg, which set aside R16-million to secure the rights to stage the tournament for three years from 2009.
Under this deal, this year would be Joburg’s final year of hosting this tournament; however, the governing body of ATP and the International Tennis Federation have asked the city to stage it as an annual competition.
“At the end of the event, the City organisers will have a meeting with the tourism industry as well as the other stakeholders who can help make this a successful Joburg event every year,” says Siyanda Mnukwa, the director of management support, in the department of community development.
“The City wants to make this event its own, because it plays a vital role in familiarising the communities with this sport.”
The Soweto Open is becoming more established tournaments, attracting both local and international professional tennis players. This year, wild cards have been awarded to Raven Klaasen and other local players for the men’s and women’s single tournaments. They will be up against top international players.
Youngsters get trainingYoungsters will get trainingA wild card is a special admission to a tournament without meeting the requirements.
Mnukwa says the City works with the South African Tennis Association (Sata) in affiliate clubs and schools, to raise awareness of the sport. In addition, Joburg will provide buses that will bring children from selected schools to watch the tournament. This will encourage young people to take up the sport.
And during the tournament, professional tennis players will conduct coaching clinics for local young players. Sata affiliated clubs are expected to identify their shining stars to attend the clinics. About 60 children will attend the clinics.
Mnukwa says that from the last two events, it has been evident that people are not yet into tennis as a sport.
Soweto Open court action will start at 9.30am on Monday, with Executive Mayor Amos Masondo officially opening the tournament.
From Tuesday to Thursday, it will start at 10am. The finals for both doubles and singles on Friday and Saturday will start at 11am. Admission on all days is free.
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