Monday, 25 January 2021 17:14

Staff Reporter.

Photo Credit: Frennie Shivambu.

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.

As a sports project with a purpose, the BNP Paribas RCS Rising Star Tennis initiative aims to increase youth participation in tennis and create opportunity for school boys and girls from all communities.

Now in its second year, the competition is welcoming new entrants, many of whom have never played tennis before. They will have the opportunity to play with some of South Africa's most promising junior players, in the ultimate tennis talent search.

Ahead of the widely anticipated annual series, tennis activations will be launched in the Eastern Cape, Gauteng, and Limpopo. These activations will also provide support for disadvantaged schools, coaching schoolchildren who have little/no previous playing experience to prepare them for the BNP Paribas RCS Rising Star Tennis competition.

Over the next few weeks, development clinics will be held in Polokwane, Port Elizabeth and Atteridgeville. These clinics will include sessions with Rising Star Tennis ambassadors Kgothatso Montjane and Kholo Montsi, as well as media personality Carol Tshabalala.

Anthony Moruthane, Rising Star Tennis Project Director, stressed that the organizers will ensure that stringent COVID-19 safety protocols are implemented at all tournaments from district level to the national final.

"We understand that there are currently lot of concerns regarding the spread of COVID-19 as the country battles an intense second wave. As a socially distanced sport, tennis has been a silver lining and a point of focus for many of our young competitors, and we are putting every measure into place to ensure hygiene protocols will be rigorously implemented and sustained through the competition."

Kevin Anderson, the former world No 5 and two-time Grand Slam finalist, who continues to play a key role as the main ambassador and face of BNP Paribas RCS Rising Star Tennis, will conduct a series of virtual masterclass sessions to help mobilize and excite the children ahead of the competition.

Entries are now open for the popular BNP Paribas RCS Rising Star Tennis series, and interested participants are urged to get their teams in before the deadline on Friday, 26 March 2021.

District school competitions are intended to start in April, followed by provincial school finals in all nine provinces in May.

The BNP Paribas RCS Rising Star Tennis National Final will be held at two venues - Arthur Ashe Tennis Centre in Soweto and Groenkloof Tennis Club in Pretoria - from 30 July to 1 August 2021.

Following the various levels of competition around the country, which will involve hundreds of primary and high schools, 56 teams will compete in the National Final, including eight wild card entries and eight wheelchair tennis teams.

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