If there is a season that’s the most suitable to play tennis, well, there is no doubt that it’s autumn. The temperature is milder and the overall quality of the game increases. In fact, South Africa's climate allows for outdoor play for twelve months of the year, but the Van der Stel Tennis Club was filled with crisp air for the first Tennis World Tour tournaments following the arrival of autumn.
The weekend of 10-11 April hosted the Open category tournaments, i.e., events without age restrictions. These are very interesting events, because they compare tennis players from very different generations.
It happened in Open A, where the two finalists were over 30 years apart. On the one hand Luca Link (born in 2003), on the other Federico Coppini (1972). The organizer of the circuit, as well as founder of the Tennis World Foundation, was a bit unlucky because he played a very tight semi-final against the 15-year-old Anathi Nofotyo (the latter won 11-9 in the super tie-break), then had to take the field half-an-hour later for the final. Link, one of the most prominent players of the TWT, since the first stages, was fresher than him. But Coppini will be equally satisfied, because he was defeated by a boy who trains at the Tennis World Academy, of which he’s the director.
In short, this was a classic case of a student surpassing the teacher. The scenario was also repeated in the doubles tournament, which was also won by academy students, Wade Hermanus and Link. The two had faced each other in the semi-final of the singles event (Link had won after losing the first set 4-0), but this did not affect their performances in doubles: in the final, they were pushed all the way to the super tie-break before they could overcome Coppini-Blom and win the title.
In this round of events, it was decided to start directly with the knockout phase (without round robin), but with the institution of the backdraw, that is a second board in which the eliminated in the first round can participate, a bit like what used to happen in the legendary Wimbledon Plate, a tournament that used to be reserved for those eliminated in the first two rounds of the Championships.
In Open A, the backdraw was won by 21-year-old South African, Meindert Vergeer. Although the hierarchical ladder favoured the Open A, very interesting things were also seen in the Open B. For the record, Zimbabwean, Patrick Mbuyiseli Ngwenya, the 40-year-old who is among the masters of the Tennis World Academy, won.
This is a very important step: tournament after tournament, the Tennis World Tour is growing in terms of popularity (to date, over 400 tennis players have played at least one game), also sparking the interest of South African tennis leaders. It is therefore not surprising that four players arrived from the Center of Cape Town: in addition to Faleni, there were also Socishe (semi-finalist), Sauls and Qina (both of whom who were eliminated in the quarterfinals).
It is to be believed that the field of participation is destined to improve, tournament after tournament, also due to the optimal playing conditions offered by the Stellenbosch club.
The backdraw was won by the Italian Gianluca Sola, who also overtook Lisa Mpatemi, 17 years old from Coppini's academy, in the final.
Even girls can participate; and there’s a nice women's tournament: Speaking of generational challenges, among the women, the expert Sari Stegmann (born in 1983) won, but all eyes were on Sinazo Solani, a girl who emerged from the Tennis World Foundation project. Thanks to the foundation's recruiting efforts, she has been able to devote herself to tennis with greater continuity and she trains regularly in the Tennis World Academy, along with the other young promise Shiloh Daniels. Right now, Stegmann is even superior, considering she won the tournament played in Strand. Between the semi-finals and the final, Stegmann lost just two games. The next tournaments will be very important to understand if the Tennis World girls have narrowed the gap. But the Tour does not end there: next weekend the youth tournaments will restart, with boys’ tournaments from the Under-9 to the Under-15 category, in addition to the Under-13 girls’ stage, and the doubles table, which has now fully entered the program.
In the meantime, the amount raised for the humanitarian purposes of the Tennis World Foundation has grown significantly: to date, 31,636 Rands have been raised. Considering that we are at the halfway point (44 tournaments played, 50 still to be played), there is great confidence that the proceeds of the second part will be higher than the already bountiful amount collected to date. Because tennis and solidarity, at the Tennis World Tour, know how to go hand in hand.