Tennis South Africa (TSA) has confirmed a partnership with the WTA (Women’s Tennis Association), through the WTA Future Stars event taking place in South Africa in 2021.
The format was due to debut in the country last year but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
WTA Future Stars is a singles competition for girls in the Under-14 (U14) and Under-16 (U16) age categories, that culminates in a global final held in the lead-up to the Shiseido WTA Finals Shenzhen – the WTA’s season finale which will be held in China in November of this year.
The South African leg of WTA Future Stars will be hosted as part of the 2021 Growthpoint Junior Nationals – which is scheduled to take place in Bloemfontein in April. The girls who win U14 and U16 singles titles, respectively, at the local event will earn the right to represent South Africa at the WTA Future Stars global final in Shenzhen – all expenses paid.
WTA Future Stars programme was established in 2014 and includes participating countries such as Australia, Canada, China, Great Britain, India and the USA. This year girls from more than 25 countries and regions will make the trip of a lifetime to Shenzhen, where they will pit their skills against their peers and benefit from a diverse off-court program including development seminars and mentoring by some of the greats of the game.
In 2019, the WTA Future Stars finalists had the chance to attend meet-and-greets with WTA Legends and WTA players like Martina Hingis, Mary Pierce, Simona Halep and Bianca Andreescu, receive mentorship from Zheng Jie, Alicia Molik, Casey Dellacqua and attend clinics hosted by WTA Finals Community Ambassador Judy Murray.
Melissa Pine, WTA Vice President of Global Programs, praised the new partnership: “We are thrilled to be working closely with Tennis South Africa to expand our global WTA Future Stars program into the region. Through this partnership we look forward to empowering the next generation of young girls to stretch their limits and inspire them to achieve their goals in life. Shining a spotlight on high performance players from around the globe, the program provides once-in-a-lifetime development and mentorship opportunities from the stars of the WTA.”
Richard Glover, CEO of TSA, hailed the news as an exciting boost for women’s tennis in the country: “While we are disappointed that WTA Future Stars could not take place in 2020, we are very excited to have another opportunity later this year. WTA Future Stars will add an exciting dimension to our Growthpoint Junior Nationals and it will also provide two of our emerging young female players with a unique life experience – both on and off the court. We also believe this new collaboration with the WTA will lead to other exciting opportunities for our female tennis players, in the coming years.”
Credit source: Tennis South Africa