Thai giant-slayer for Soweto Open

2010-04-01 00:00

THE news that a player who has beaten former world number ones and top-tenners Amelie Mauresmo, Jennifer Capriati, Jelena Jankovic, Dinara Safina and Mary Pierce is coming to the Soweto Open tennis tournament has put a smile on the face of tournament director and Wartburg resident Gavin Crookes.

Tamarine Tanasugarn of Thailand is one of the latest additions to the draw that includes more than 10 players who grace the world’s top 120 rankings, a field that anyone who knows anything about tennis understands is a quality band of exponents of racket and tennis ball. And come April 12 to 17, they are sure to be fighting it out tooth and nail for the R750 000 prize money at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Centre in the Soweto suburb of Jabavu.

“This tournament has a wonderful international flavour to it,” said Crookes, who is also president of KZN Tennis and a key member of the SA Tennis Association executive.

“We have players from Thailand, Great Britain, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Australia, Canada, Austria, Belarus and many other countries coming to Soweto in what is a great initiative by sponsors the City of Johannesburg to spread the sport among all South Africans.

“Once again we have a great mix of experience and up-and-coming talent. It is the kind of tournament that when people are watching one of the grand slams on television in a few years’ time, they will remember how they first saw one of the players who participated in this uniquely South African event.”

In another exciting first, this year the men’s and women’s events will be played concurrently at the same venue.

Now ranked 73rd in the world after a career highest of 19th, the Los Angeles-born Tanasugarn (32) is one of the most respected players on the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Tour, and apart from three singles titles has also won two doubles crowns with grand slam singles winner Maria Sharapova.

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