Cape Town - While champions were crowned and matches were won, it was a victorious day all-round for South African tennis, as the BNP Paribas RCS Rising Star Tennis finals came to a spectacular close at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Centre in Soweto on Sunday.
Turning out in the finale of the three-day youth tennis festival, Kevin Anderson edged out Lloyd Harris, snatching a 6-3, 3-6, 11-9 win in their highly anticipated exhibition match.
"It was very exciting for me to be out here, playing in front of all these people in Soweto, including my family who have supported me over the years," said Anderson, the ambassador of the BNP Paribas RCS Rising Star Tennis initiative.
"The atmosphere out here was great and hopefully these kids will be inspired to pursue their own endeavours in life. That is what's most important."
Though he narrowly lost to two-time Grand Slam finalist Anderson, international rising star Harris was pleased to have been given the rare opportunity to play on home soil.
"It was fantastic to be here, playing in Soweto. The people were amazing," said Harris.
"It was such an honour playing with Kevin and such a special occasion. I had a lot of fun out there and I think we both tried to entertain the crowd, and we played some good tennis.
"I hope we inspired a lot of kids here today. If we did that, I feel we definitely got a win."
In the BNP Paribas RCS Rising Star Tennis finals, the culmination of a seven-month competition involving more than 360 schools across the country, Grey College and Oranje Meisieskool emerged as champions in the boys' and girls' divisions, respectively.
Grey College secured victory in the boys' division after taking a hard-fought win over Durban Prep in the trophy battle.
Earlier, in the semi-finals, Grey College had outclassed Midstream College and Durban Prep had beaten Trinity House in the semi-finals.
Meanwhile, Oranje Meisieskool beat De Hoop in the final of the girls' division.
The eventual winners defeated Willem Postma to progress from the semi-finals, while De Hoop had edged out Aliwal North.
"I'm excited about what we saw this weekend," said RCS CEO Regan Adams.
"This required several months of planning and to see it culminating in this proudly South African tennis weekend, with this finale today and seeing the talent these kids have, has been amazing."
With the likes of Bafana Bafana midfielder Dean Furman turning out to watch, and the Soweto Gospel Choir entertaining spectators, BNP Paribas South Africa Group CEO Vikas Khandelwal was delighted with the outcome of the festival, which included a successful development tennis clinic.
"We've seen incredible talent on the court this week, and it has been great having Kevin and Lloyd here," said Khandelwal.
"I think the kids of South Africa can really learn from these guys, who have gone through a lot of struggles in order to inspire many people back home."