Saturday, 16 November 2019 16:59

Kevin Anderson, the former US Open and Wimbledon men’s singles finalist has announced that he will be playing an exhibition match at the national primary school’s finals of the BNP Paribas RCS  ‘Rising Star Tennis’ initiative set to take place at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Facility in February 2020.

Launched in July 2019, the BNP Paribas RCS Rising Star Tennis is a national primary school’s team tennis championship aimed at increasing youth participation in the sport in South Africa, with Anderson unveiled as the tournament ambassador.

Vikas Khandelwal, Head of territory for BNP Paribas South Africa revealed: “We’re delighted to add to the success of the Rising Star Tennis Initiative and top off the competition’s two finals with an exhibition match between two of South Africa’s most prominent tennis players. What an inspiration it will be to the young players taking part to see the great heights that tennis can take you, and the value and unification it can bring to a community. On behalf of everyone at BNP Paribas, I am extremely proud to support this initiative and the new legacy it has created for Tennis in South Africa. The tournament has transcended beyond just tennis, with social inclusion at its core.

Kevin’s opponent at the event is the rising star of South African Tennis, Lloyd Harris, who faced off against Roger Federer on the Centre Court at Wimbledon earlier this year. Anderson and Harris are also set to team up to represent South Africa at the ATP Cup in Australia in early 2020.

According to Regan Adams, CEO of RCS: “As the story of our Rugby World Cup winning Captain Siya Kholisi demonstrates, sport has the ability to empower young people to rise above their circumstances. Our hope in supporting the Rising Star Tennis series is that we will provide an opportunity to play tennis that can make a difference in a young person’s

life. Whether it simply motivates and inspires them or they reach the pinnacle of the sport, we will have contributed towards building our nation.

Anderson is one of South Africa’s most successful tennis players, having reached the no.5 spot in the ATP singles rankings in 2018. His career highlights include reaching the US Open and Wimbledon men’s singles finals in 2017 and 2018 respectively.

Anderson revealed he is looking forward to returning to South Africa to inspire a new generation of young local talent. “BNP Paribas RCS Rising Star Tennis is a fantastic initiative to grow tennis in South Africa. I have been delighted with the progress that has been achieved in such a short space of time and I am optimistic about the new legacy it is creating.

He continued: “The chance to return to South Africa and play in front of my family, friends and fans against an exciting young talent like Lloyd Harris is a unique opportunity for me. I am also particularly looking forward to meeting and engaging with the young players who have progressed to the national finals of the tournament. No doubt there will be some amazing tennis talent on display.”

So far this year, the BNP Paribas RCS Rising Star Tennis Initiative has seen over 350 primary school teams fighting it out for the chance to progress to the national final. The project has been driven by BNP Paribas and RCS who are working closely with Tennis South Africa to nurture tennis, and widen its participation and appeal in order to diversify the sport and enrich South Africa’s junior talent pool.

The event will also include a wheelchair tennis exhibition match, as well as a celebrity doubles challenge. Further exciting details about the event, including dates and information on how to purchase tickets, will be announced in due course.

Richard Glover, CEO of Tennis SA concluded: “The BNP Paribas RCS Rising Star Tennis regional events have generated a groundswell of interest amongst primary schools across the country and the national final promises to be a fitting conclusion to year one of this wonderful initiative. We would like to thank BNP Paribas, RCS and Kevin Anderson for collaborating with us to grow tennis in South Africa. While we still have much to do to reach all communities in South Africa, this is an exciting start.