De Voest nets SA Open slot

A MUCH-NEEDED local presence in the South African Open at Montecasino next month was assured yesterday with the award of wild-card entries into the 32-man main draw to Davis Cup tennis players Rik de Voest and Izak van der Merwe.

A MUCH-NEEDED local presence in the South African Open at Montecasino next month was assured yesterday with the award of wild-card entries into the 32-man main draw to Davis Cup tennis players Rik de Voest and Izak van der Merwe.

And a third South African will be given the opportunity to make his mark in the ATP's R3,5million international tournament when the remaining wild card will be granted to the winner of the South African Closed Championships at the German Club in Johannesburg from January 23 to 29.

"We had committed to handing the three wild-card positions to South Africans in line with our policy to encourage local talent," said South African Tennis Association CEO Ian Smith, "and De Voest and Van der Merwe were the highest-ranked local players among the entries for the Montecasino tournament."

Smith said the incentive for the winner - of qualifying for the South African Open - also provided a major boost for the South African Closed tournament and the cream of local talent, apart from local No 1 Kevin Anderson and probably De Voest and Van der Merwe, was expected to enter the tournament at the German Club.

Anderson curiously elected not to enter the South African Open as well.

Local tennis officials, meanwhile, are holding thumbs that potential top seed and main drawcard for the South African Open, France's magnetic Gael Monfils, recovers sufficiently from a shoulder injury to take part. - Sapa

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