SA tennis boss and tournament director Ian Smith is busy negotiating with the players around the globe ahead of next year’s SA Tennis Open.
For the third consecutive year, Montecasino, in Johannesburg will play host to the SA Tennis Open tournament, worth R3.5-mlllion and scheduled for 31 January to 6 February.
The qualifying tournament will be held on 29-30 January. The main singles draw will comprise of 32 singles players with 16 teams competing for the doubles title.
The 2010 SA Open was won by Spain’s Feliciano Lopez who beat Stephane Robert 7-5, 6-1.In the semi-finals Lopez had put out top seed Gael Monfils of France. The doubles title went to Rohan Bopanna of India and Pakistan’s Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi. After winning in Johannesburg, Bopanna and Qureshi went on to reach the final of the US Open.
The SA Open is a 250 series event on the ATP World Tour which means the winner will take away 250 world ranking points.
Smith said that he was busy negotiating with players to travel to South Africa for the event but it was expected that Lopez, presently ranked 31 in the world, would return to South Africa to defend his title. Another Spaniard, world number seven David Ferrer, who has played the last two South African Opens at Montecasino has also intimated he would be part of next year’s line-up.
ÔÇ£Staging a tournament at a venue like Montecasino is a huge advantage for us,ÔÇØ said Smith. ÔÇ£Players have enjoyed coming here as there is a lot to occupy them at the Montecasino complex. The players official hotel, the luxurious Palazzo hotel, forms part of the tournament site. Players and officials have everything on their doorsteps which also provides a safe and secure environment which is critical for an event of this nature.ÔÇØ
This year the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (NLDTF)┬á will be the core sponsor of the tournament. ÔÇ£It is wonderful to have the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund as a sponsor.
They have been a great supporter to the game over the years and their support of the 2011 tournament has played a major role in the staging the event for the third year. The South African Tennis Association and the tournament are committed towards working closely with the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund in exposing the game to the wider communities which in turn will have a positive impact on the development of tennis in our country. With the NLDTF’s help, we will bring in children from all walks of life to experience the tournament and the world class tennis it has to offer, which hopefully will inspire them as young players going forward.ÔÇØ Smith said.
ÔÇ£The National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund is proud to be able to contribute to this major sporting eventÔÇØ, said Sershan Naidoo, Divisional Manager, National Lottery Distribution Fund. ÔÇ£The contribution is made possible as a result of the millions of South Africans that participate in the National Lottery. We applaud the efforts of SATA to promote tennis in South Africa and make the tennis more accessible to those who previously would not have had access.ÔÇØ