Johannesburg, South Africa - South Africa will join more than 60 countries in celebrating the second World Tennis Day on Monday 3 March.
World Tennis Day was introduced last year by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) with the aim of promoting tennis and increasing participation around the globe. Former world number ones, Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi and John McEnroe will appear in tennis events in Hong Kong, London and New York.
Initial plans for World Tennis Day celebrations in South Africa had been centred around wheelchair tennis, in recognition of the great progress in this format. The celebration was to have taken the form of an Ability Challenge, in which top players and celebrities would pit themselves against South Africa’s wheelchair superstars like Lucas Sithole; South African number one and world number two quad player, KG Montjane; South Africa’s top female wheelchair player, and Evans Moripa; top-ranked South African male player.
The Ability Challenge was to have been held at OR Tambo, with sponsors Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA) setting up a full-sized tennis court at the Airport. However, because World Tennis Day clashes with the arrival of the Brazilian soccer team in South Africa, it has been decided to postpone the Challenge until April 8.
Disabled sport is globally becoming more recognized and Airports Company South Africa has earmarked wheelchair tennis as the disability code they are committed to supporting. Airports Company South Africa has shown their support by playing a large role in exposing more people to wheelchair tennis and to South Africa’s top wheelchair tennis players.
WTSA General Manager Karen Losch said that having Airports Company South Africa’s support and an event of this magnitude at OR Tambo is a great opportunity to showcase the sport; “Being able to host this event at OR Tambo is a huge opportunity, and we are very proud to have Airports Company South Africa back us on this initiative. The achievements of our wheelchair players have made South Africa so proud, and so it seems only fitting that we should showcase them at South Africa’s premier Airport. We hope people will turn out in numbers on April 8 to join in the fun and celebrate our wheelchair superstars.”
Despite the postponement of the Ability Challenge, the rest of the WTSA World Tennis Day celebrations remain unchanged with wheelchair tennis clinics taking place in centres around South Africa this coming weekend.
As part of the celebrations, Tennis South Africa (TSA) has arranged for a top Israeli coach, Ronen Moralli, to visit South Africa. Moralli will arrive on World Tennis Day and will conduct workshops and coaching clinics at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Centre in Soweto.
“Tennis is a game of a lifetime and it’s important that South Africa as one of the founding members of the International Tennis Federation (ITF) joins nations from all over the world in celebrating this beautiful game on World Tennis Day. By celebrating World Tennis Day at the Arthur Ashe in Soweto, we are sending out a message to the world that tennis is being enjoyed in all corners of South Africa, and the game is playing a vital role in the development of the youth on a sporting, physical and social level” said Wire Zondi, president of Tennis South Africa.
At the Grand Old Lady of the game in eThekwini Westridge Park, KZN Tennis will have an open day on Sunday 2 March for junior players under the age of 12 where all KZN coaches will be on hand to promote and teach youngsters skills of the game.