Mon, 17 May 2021

More top-level tennis on the horizon for SA?

10 Dec 2019, 23:42 GMT+10

Cape Town - It might be termed a Cinderella return to the once-teeming South African tournament tennis circuit after an absence of seven years when an ATP Challenger 50 event is staged at the North-West University in Potchefstroom from March 7, 2020.

The event will boast a relatively modest R500 000 in overall prize money and its Challenger 50 category is at the bottom of the heap of the 13 tournament levels in which the ATP is involved.

And now, of course, the question needs to be raised as to whether a Prince Charming will be forthcoming, with a relatively appealing and strong entry on this revived occasion and incentives to tempt some of the top players in the world to come here in the future.

For the meantime, Tennis South Africa (TSA), who last week released the news of their belated tournament breakthrough with the aid of sponsors Octagon, will do well to twist the patriotic arms of top South African players Kevin Anderson, Lloyd Harris and world No 8-ranked doubles specialist, Raven Klaasen - as well as a couple more of the world's top 100 players - to make the trek to the well-equipped, but off the beaten track tennis venue in Potchefstroom.

If this should happen, TSA could well consider enhancing the status of Challenger tournament by also declaring it the South African Open, remembering such an integral event was last staged eight years ago when Anderson emerged the victor, but in the past has boasted icons of the calibre of Rod Laver and Jimmy Connors, as well as South Africa's own Eric Sturgess as champions.

Ultimately, of course, if and when the South African Open regains its old glory, it would need to return to a Johannesburg venue - or at least another metropolitan city like Cape Town or Durban.

As to what will be making up the field in pedantic Potchefstroom in the meantime, the silence in gleaning a response from TSA CEO Richard Glover was more than deafening.

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