ATP Challenger tennis returns to South Africa

Marelize Santana -- Mon, 12/09/2019 - 08:03

ATP Challenger tennis returns to South Africa

Local tennis has been boosted by the news that Tennis South Africa (TSA) has secured the rights to bring an ATP Challenger tournament to the country in 2020. The ATP Challenger 50 event will take place from 9 March 2020 at the new tennis complex at the North-West University’s (NWU’s) campus in Potchefstroom.

Challenger events are, after the ATP Tour (250, 500 and Masters events), the second highest level of international men’s ATP tennis tournaments. The last ATP Challenger to take place in South Africa was hosted in Soweto in 2013.

The event has been made possible thanks to an innovative commercial joint venture between TSA and Henico Schalekamp, corporate finance partner at PKF Octagon, as well as support from the ATP. The joint venture sees TSA and Henico partner to co-fund the event, with the objective of growing and elevating the profile and stature of the tournament in future years.

Henico is excited to have helped bring an ATP Challenger event to South Africa. “As a passionate tennis player I have been keen for some time to help grow our sport and invest in international tournaments to South Africa,” he says.

“I have been very impressed with the work being done at TSA over the last few years and now seems the right time to get involved in my personal capacity. Both TSA and I have big plans for this event and together we hope to take it from strength to strength in the coming years.”

The NWU is the official host venue for the 2020 tournament, and as part of their partnership with TSA are making available the new world class tennis facility at the campus in Potchefstroom, which is due to be completed early in 2020.

Sheldon Rostron, head of sport at the NWU, welcomes the news. “It is an honour and privilege to be part of a prestigious event like this. We see the growth and strides taking place in TSA and we are excited to host the event, as well as contribute to tennis in our country,” he says.

“This partnership is hopefully one that will help create sustainable world class events, as well as attract more events like this to South Africa, for players in our country.

“The NWU strives to provide opportunities for athletes and students in sport and through endeavours such as this we can retain talent and provide world-class opportunities, catering for the needs of our youth and top sport stars in this country. We thank TSA for their confidence in our ability to host, as well as to Helene Botha and Riaan Venter that will be managing this event on behalf of the NWU.”

Richard Glover, CEO of TSA hails the event partners for their belief in the federation and indicated that there is more good news to come.

“TSA is starting to roll out a sustainable international tournament plan in South Africa, thereby giving our young players the opportunity to compete in home conditions against foreign players, with significant prize-money and/or international ranking points at stake. We would like to thank Henico, the NWU and indeed the ATP for buying into our vision and making this tournament a reality in South Africa.”

“There is more positive news in the offing and a further announcement will be made shortly about several other new international tournaments coming to South Africa in March 2020 – including some critical women’s events,” added Richard.

Earlier this year TSA launched and hosted a series of new International Tennis Federation (ITF) events in the country. They include the Samaai Cup (an ITF Junior Grade A event and one of only six such tournaments in the world), the Spring Open (a unique combined able bodied and wheelchair tennis event), and the Tuks International (An ITF World Tennis Tour event).