A group of players from Alexandra township in action during a tennis development programme at Sandton Sports Club in Johannesburg aimed at mobilizing players for the Rising Star tennis programme.Photo Credit: Frennie Shivambu.
Despite the suspension of sports due to COVID-19 restrictions, the 2021 BNP Paribas RCS Rising Star Tennis campaign got off to a spectacular start.
Although the second edition of the campaign has been temporarily suspended, with precautionary measures taken by Tennis South Africa (TSA) the second instalment of the competition has already doubled the first year’s cohort of 365 schools to 797 institutions.
With district competitions launched around the country last month, this year’s competition includes high school and wheelchair tennis players, highlighting the growth of the sport and the long-term investment made by BNP Paribas and their wholly owned consumer finance subsidiary RCS.
Speaking about the competition’s ongoing development, Vikas Khandelwal, Head of Territory, BNP Paribas South Africa said “Tennis is a true passion for BNP Paribas, and we’re extremely proud to support such an inclusive sport initiative that not only enhances South African tennis at the grassroots level, but also allows some children to experience tennis for the very first time. We look forward to continuing the competition, once inter-school sports events are permitted again. This has a significant social impact.”
The countrywide initiative aims to provide tennis access to children, targeting hundreds of schools across the country, including schools in historically disadvantaged communities in South Africa.
A total of 40 district events have already been hosted by TSA this season as well as several coaching clinics across the country, with many of them incorporating schools from rural areas and townships, including historically disadvantaged communities such as Bothaville (Free State), Seshego (Limpopo), Ga-Sekhukhune (Limpopo), Hammanskraal (Gauteng), Thohoyandou (Limpopo), Mafikeng (North West), Okiep (Northern Cape), Matsulu (Mpumalanga) and many others.
The BNP Paribas RCS Rising Star Tennis series will now move on to the second round of provincial tournaments, which were initially expected to be held in May and June but had to be rescheduled.
The national finals of the programme will be held later this year when conditions allow, based on government decisions around COVID-19 concerns.