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SA stars head to International Masters

The Nike Junior Tour (NJT) International Masters has become more than just a tennis tournament.  It has become an experience and this year all the under-12 and under-14 boys and girls who qualify will have a totally new experience.

This year the tournament will be bigger than ever with 30 countries expected to vie for top honours. With the dates now 8-15 December the Masters will be played later than usual. The reason for this is that it will fall in the week separating the Eddie Herr and Orange Bowl tournaments.

But one thing that will not change, is the beauty and charm of the venue. For the fifth time in its 14-year history, the NJT International Masters will be hosted at a Club Med venue and this year it will be staged at Club Med Columbus Isle on the Island of San Salvador in The Bahamas. All the players will be able to experience a piece of history because it was on these very beaches that Christopher Columbus landed on the ship called the Santa Maria, on his journey to discover America in the year 1492.

For the past two years the tournament has been played on hard courts but this year it will revert to clay.

The 30  countries expected to line up are France, Italy, Croatia, Spain, Czech Republic, Germany, Switzerland, Holland, Hungary, Slovakia, Belgium, Israel, United Kingdom, Russia, Serbia, UAE, Belarus, Morocco, China, Brazil, USA, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, South Africa, Bosnia, Sweden, Slovenia, Ukraine and Turkey.

The Nike Junior Tour has now been a breeding ground for young tennis players since 1997 when the concept was introduced by Chris Vermeeren and the first event played at Hilversum in Holland. Since then the NJT International Masters has travelled all over the world and has been hosted in Germany, Spain, South Africa, the Bahamas, France, Italy, the USA and the Dominican Republic.

Already players such as current world No 1 Rafael Nadal, Sweden’s Robin Soderling, Juan Martin del Potro from Argentina, Czech Thomas Berdych, Israel’s Shahar Peer, and Czech Lucie Safarova have all cut their tennis teeth at the Nike Junior Tour. All are household names and it should not be long before others, such as Carlos Boluda (Spain), Tiago Fernandes (Brazil), An-Sophie Mestach (Belgium) and Ajla Tomljanovic (Croatia) join that list.

“Nadal-Berdych, Nadal-Soderling, the last two Men’s Grand Slam’s finals opposed Nike Junior Tour players,ÔÇØ said Nike Junior Tour Project Leader, Philippe Weiss.

ÔÇ£ What a big achievement for our tournament which has become the biggest and the most prestigious tournament for the U12 and U14 categories.

But more than a tennis tournament, the NJT is about fun, excitement, human experience, sharing outstanding moments together and no doubt this year again in Bahamas, at Club Med Columbus Isle, we will have an unforgettable edition.ÔÇØ Continued Weiss ÔÇ£We are looking forward to hosting children from all over the world, See you in December “