double delight for Soweto open

20090928VNH.   Lauren Albanese (USA) in action against Bojana Jovanovski (SRB) in the ITF Soweto Open at the Authur Ashe tennis courts, Soweto. Albanese won 6-4 6-4.PIC :VELI NHLAPO.28/09/2009. © SOWETAN
20090928VNH. Lauren Albanese (USA) in action against Bojana Jovanovski (SRB) in the ITF Soweto Open at the Authur Ashe tennis courts, Soweto. Albanese won 6-4 6-4.PIC :VELI NHLAPO.28/09/2009. © SOWETAN

THIS year's Soweto Open men's and women's tennis tournaments have been combined and will be staged from April 12 to 17, unlike last year when they were played on consecutive weeks.

THIS year's Soweto Open men's and women's tennis tournaments have been combined and will be staged from April 12 to 17, unlike last year when they were played on consecutive weeks.

Once again both events will be sponsored by the City of Johannesburg. Johannesburg mayor Amos Masondo said the sporting event was meant to provide a platform for the city to introduce youth to tennis, promote Soweto as a geographic location of interest, enhance social cohesion, expose the local people to international talent and experience, and promote Gauteng and Johannesburg as a destination of choice for sport and culture..

Each section will carry prize money of R750000 and there will be free hospitality for players in the main draw. The tournament will be staged again at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Grounds in Jabavu, Soweto.

Tournament director Gavin Crookes said it made a lot of sense to hold the two events concurrently.

"It is not only logistically a more sensible move but it is also far more cost-effective. We are also hoping that by combining the two tournaments we will attract many more spectators to the tennis centre," Crookes said.

Last year the men's event in particular attracted a strong field with Frenchman Fabrice Santoro, playing in his final year on the professional tour, taking top honours.

The women's titles went to 19-year-old Anastasija Sevatsova of Latvia, who has gone on to better things. Just two weeks ago she beat former world No 1 Jelena Jankovic on her way to reaching the semifinals of a WTA tournament in Monterey. She is currently at a career-high ranking of 63.

The men's tournament event is an ATP Challenger Series event while the women's event forms part of the ITF Pro Circuit and falls under the auspices of the International Tennis Federation, though for the players, it carries WTA ranking points.

Both singles draws will comprise 32 players with 24 direct entries, four qualifying spots and four wild cards.

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