In a major boost for African tennis, the International Tennis Federation has awarded Tennis SA with the right to host a high-profile and prestigious ITF Junior Grade A tournament.There are currently only five Grade A events played globally and outside of the Junior Grand Slams. They carry the highest ranking points on the ITF junior circuit, which are hosted in Mexico, Japan, Italy, the USA and Brazil respectively.
The ITF confirmed at a recent board meeting that the only A Grade event on the African continent has been awarded to TSA. The date and venue for the event is still to be confirmed, but it is set to be played in the second half of 2019.
With valuable ITF junior world ranking points up for grabs, the event promises to attract the world's top U18 male and female players. This will be the first time in 34 years that a Grade A tournament will be staged in Africa. The last time South Africa hosted a junior tournament of this stature was back in 1985.
Junior player Mbali Langa expressed her excitement following the announcement at the Arthur Ashe Tennis complex in Soweto on Monday, and said: 'I'm really excited about the news and the tournament that will be coming here next year.
'It's a great way to start living my dream, and most importantly to grow in the sport. I look forward to playing in this tournament and get more international exposure. I'm extremely excited to be part of these exciting times of tennis in the country,' Langa said.
Richard Glover, CEO of TSA, commented, 'We would like to thank the ITF and the Confederation of African Tennis for placing their faith in TSA. This is a massive boost for high performance junior tennis on the continent, and is also a clear signal of our intent to bring more international events to South Africa.
'This new Grade A event provides a wonderful platform for some of our rising junior stars to test themselves against the world's best without having to travel outside of Africa.'