Port Elizabeth is in the middle of Tennis fever which will culminate in a Mini Wimbledon complete with red carpet on Saturday, the 17th and Sunday the 18th December 2005.
Over 600 junior players from around the globe, Africa and South Africa, are competing in two junior international and national tournaments which began earlier this week.
The youngsters – from America, Great Britain, Poland and Austria as well as Botswana and Namibia – are competing against South Africa’s promising junior tennis players to earn points towards their overseas rankings.
The players are in the city taking part in the Vodacom Nelson Mandela Bay International Tennis Federation’s World Ranking Junior Tennis Tournament (December 13 to 18) and the three-year-old Vodacom Nelson Mandela Bay Super 7 Junior National Tennis Championships (13 to 17 December).
It is the first time the ITF tournament is being held in Port Elizabeth and organisers are delighted with seventy entries. The ever-growing Super Seven 2005 event has exceeded expectations and attracted nearly 600 entrants breaking all records for entries for a Coastal circuit event.
Eastern Province has only two 17 year olds in the ITF event – Jane Pringle (seeded 5th) in the girls top ten and Eric Fisher seeded 17 in the boys section.
The seedings are as follows – first seed Brad Williams and seventh seed Michael Thompson are from Western Province; second seed Harry Skinner is from Great Britain and third seed KP Crowley is from Boland. Fourth seed Wesley Baptiste, 8th seed Rikus Becker and 9th seed Jean Anderson are from Gauteng North, with fifth seed Mpilo Migogo from Gauteng Central and 6th Seed Hendrik Coertzen from the Free State. Tenth seed Johan de Wit is from Namibia.
In the top ten girls are first seed Free State’s Elze Potgieter followed by Boland’s Engela Olivier (third seed) and Abigail Olivier (fourth seed). Elrien de Villiers from Namibia is seeded sixth followed by Gauteng East’s Marne Roos (7th) and Elizabeth Morake (8). Laone Botshoma of Botswana is tenth seed.
The International tournament ends on Sunday (finals at prizegiving from 10 am) and the National tournament ends on Saturday (with finals and prizegiving from 13.45) at the Nelson Mandela Bay University tennis courts in Summerstrand.
”Our tournaments will transform the city into a mini Wimbledon,” says Yvonne. “This will really give the sport a boost.”
In addition, for the first time promising junior tennis under 23 players are also competing in the Super 7.
SA Tennis Association’s inclusion of Under 23 players into junior tournaments has been welcomed as it will provide competition for neglected school leavers who want to play tennis competitively. The association recently introduced this initiative to stop the drain of top tennis talent overseas.
In the run up to the Super 7 tournament, organiser Eastern Province Tennis held a series of Development Tennis Clinics in under-privileged areas. Winners of the clinics will compete in the Super 7 while other promising players will be ball boys.
Landing the International Tennis Federation’s prestigious tournament is a coup for Eastern Cape Tennis and will help the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro to enhance its reputation as a major sporting event destination.
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