Tennis’ Big Three to the rescue of local coaches

World number 1 and Serbian international tennis player, Novak Djockovic

by MTHULISI SIBANDA
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – TENNIS coaches and technical officials unable to work or earn a living under the national risk-adjusted coronavirus (COVID19) strategy regulations have received a major boost.

The local mother body- with the involvement of the sport’s Big Three- has raised funds to cushion them from the COVID-19 catastrophe.

Novak Djockovic, the world number 1, Roger Federer, who is the most successful star of the game, and Rafael Nadal, the global number 2, have been involved in raising the funds.

They have done so directly and indirectly

Tennis South Africa (TSA) confirmed at least R64 000 had been raised through a series of auctions in recent weeks under the Tennis Cares fundraising drive.

TSA partnered former Davis Cup and Fed Cup captain, John-Laffnie de Jager, and the Caring Daisies charity to launch the campaign.

Among memorabilia auctioned include the Match in Africa frame, which at the close of the auction on Friday had received a bid of R34 000.

The Match in Africa was played at the Cape Town Stadium in December, featuring world number 4, Federer, and longtime rival Nadal.

It also featured guest appearances by Johannesburg-born comedian, political commentator, and television host, Trevor Noah, and American billionaire, Bill Gates.

Some 51 954 spectators attended, setting a record for the highest ever attendance at a tennis match.

Swiss ace Federer and Gates won the celebrity match 6–4.

In the singles, Federer beat ‘Rafa’ 6–4, 3–6, 6–3.

Federer’s mother, Lynette, is South African, hence the Fed Express’ passion for the country.

Meanwhile, a shirt signed by Djokovic fetched R20 000. Coincidentally, the Serbian Djokernol contracted the virus but has recovered.

A racket used by South African star, Raven Klassen, used in last year’s Wimbledon Doubles final, fetched R10 000 via auction.

The Capetonian and his New Zealand partner, Michael Venues, lost a fiercely-contested encounter, 3-6, 7-6, 3-6, 7-5, 5-7, to Americans Mike Bryan and Jack Sock.

Anthony Moruthane, TSA spokesperson, in an interview with CAJ News Africa, confirmed the funds raised.

“The items on auction (were) donated by individuals to help us raise funds to support coaches and technical officials affected by COVID-19 through the #TennisCares fund,” Moruthane said.

An independent panel determines recipients of the funds to be distributed weekly basis through electronic food vouchers that can be used at leading retailers.

Tennis has not been spared the escalating COVID-19 pandemic that has claimed the lives of 3,026 people from 187 977 cases confirmed in South Africa this past weekend.

Last week, TSA announced the cancellation of the SA Spring Open scheduled for September and October.

It is now scheduled for next year but dates have not been announced.

On a positive note, it announced that all categories of club tennis players can resume play with immediate effect but under strict safety measures put in place to ensure compliance with national government protocols.

– CAJ News

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