No love from the weather at tennis tourney

It was a good pay day for open men’s winner Joshua Howard-Tripp, seen receiving a R20 0000 cheque from Nicole Alegria of tournament sponsors Wilson. The men’s singles final was forced to be played on Monday, May 15.

The weather not only forced the postponement of The Festival @ St Dunstan’s, but also wreaked havoc on the top tennis tournament which was on the go at the Gauteng East Tennis Centre in Lakefield.

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The conditions caused chaos for the administrators of the tournament (played over two weekends, namely May 5, 6 and 7, and May, 12, 13 and 14).

Some of the event titles had to be shared between players while the men’s singles semi-finals and final was forced to be played on Monday, May 15.

The tournament, run under the auspices of Tennis South Africa (TSA), hosted open men’s and women’s doubles and singles events together with boys’ and girls’ u-14 events.

Prize money was on offer for all the events besides the juniors who received vouchers to the value of the allocated prize money as the rules of tennis do not allow for juniors to receive cash prizes.

The City Times caught up with TSA’s new CEO Richard Glover who was in attendance at the tournament and questioned him about the state of the sport in the land.

“We have some challenges in the sport, there’s no doubt about it, but I am extremely excited about the future of tennis in the country because there are a lot of players participating across South Africa,” he said.

Glover praised sponsors Wilson for their sponsorship of the tournament.

“From TSA’s perspective we need to be doing more events like this (money tournaments) to encourage more participation.

“One of our biggest challenges is that we are strong at junior level in terms of participation and also have many seniors playing tennis, but there is almost a ‘missing middle’ of players between the ages of 18 to 30 years old.

“A tournament like this is extremely important because it encourages those players to come back to the sport.

“A reason we lose those players is because there’s not much incentive to keep playing the game and another reason is because people are, a lot of the time, poor these days, especially in that age group when people are at university, starting careers or starting families.

“Money tournaments are one way to bring them back, but we need to look at other options too.”

The new CEO said junior participation levels in the country are on the increase with the biggest field to date in terms of entries since 2011 at the recent junior national tournament in Bloemfontein.

“We need to get our structures right to shepherd the best children through the difficult periods of their tennis careers.”

With regards to development and transformation in the sport Glover believes that if tennis is to be sustainable and grow it needs to reach out and embrace all communities.

“I am a big believer that there are children in under-privileged communities who are potential future champions.

“We must make tennis a viable ‘way out’ for these children.

“There are no quick wins or quick fixes.

“It’s about putting solid foundations and structures in place and doing the small things well.”

Overall results from the Wilson R100 000 Challenge:

• Girls’ u-14 singles finalists: Polia Gizdova and Mikayla Plitt,

• Boys’ u-14 single finalists: Jordan Gancho and Ethan Sibanda,

• Open women’s singles finalists: Caitlin Herb and Angela Georgieva,

• Men’s singles champion: Joshua Howard-Tripp, runner-up: George Botha, third place: Vasilios Caripi and Paul Anderson,

• Girls’ u-14 doubles quarter finalists: Polia Gizdova and Dominique Jansen van Vuuren, Makhosazana Stewart and Tyrah Cook, Kagiso Ledwaba and Georgia Kennedy, Martina Garnevska and Mikayla Plitt.

• Boys’ u-14 doubles quarter finalists: Andrea Scott and Benjamin Scott, William Scully and Colby Paxinos, Ethan Sibanda and Jordan Gancho, Francois van Wyk and Daniel Crowie. Women’s doubles quarter finalists: Caitlin Herb and Angela Georgieva, Maja Gledic and Tamsin Hart, Shannon Cox and Nicole Viljoen, Mbali Langa and Cassandra Boltman.

• Men’s doubles quarter finalists: Joshua Howard-Tripp and Charles Morkel, Lloyd Segal and Cameron Peterson, Paul Anderson and Vasilios Caripi, George Botha and Nikolai Manchev.

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Logan Green

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