There will be another sporting first for South Africa in April when the country will become the first African nation to host the wheelchair tennis World Team Cup. The 27th edition of the illustrious competition, which falls under the auspices of the International Tennis Federation (ITF), will be played at the University of Pretoria from 25 April until 1 May.
“This is the ITF’s flagship wheelchair tennis team event and it is an honour for us to be given the rights to host it,” said Tournament Director Holger Losch of Wheelchair Tennis South Africa (WTSA).
“With all the recent positive publicity, South Africa has become a popular destination and we are expecting the best players in the world to come to this tournament.”
The events to be contested are the Men’s World Group I and World Group II, Women’s World Group, plus Quad and Junior categories. There will be 16 countries participating in each of the World Groups, and eight countries in the Quad and Junior events.
This World Team Cup will also be the last to be staged in the current format with the Men’s World Group I and World Group II, and Women’s World Group all being reduced from 16 teams to 12 teams in 2012 with the introduction of regional qualifying. With much at stake, all nations will have plenty to play for to secure their positions in the following year’s tournament.
With the altitude a major factor in Pretoria, it will be essential for all players to acclimatise. An additional ITF wheelchair tennis event, the Airports Company South Africa South African Open, is being held the week prior to the World Team Cup at Sun City.
South Africa will take part in all four events, having qualified for Men’s World Group II and received a wild card into the other three categories.
Wheelchair tennis is currently receiving widespread international coverage, with women’s world No. 1 Esther Vergeer twice the recipient of the prestigious Laureas Award for Sportsperson with a Disability.