South African Veterans Tennis Championships: Tragedies and tenacity

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Tennis ball. (Getty Images)
Tennis ball. (Getty Images)

Currently in full swing at the Groenkloof Tennis Club and other venues in Pretoria, the annual South African Veterans Tennis Championships are blossoming tenaciously with a great deal of enthusiasm in spite of the death in the past year of a number of long-standing and respected players due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Indeed tournament organiser Sharon van der Schyff has revealed that the entry of 381 players for men's and women's events ranging from the ages of 30 to 85 is the highest in 15 years.

"This enthusiasm is encouraging and heartening," added Van der Schyff, "with tennis suffering the same heartaches, restrictions and problems that have inflicted the country generally in the past year through the pandemic."

Not unexpectedly, however, there have been grim drawbacks, with the men's 85 and women's 85 and 80 year segments cancelled because of the sparsity of entries and the men's 80 section continuing on a round robin basis with four players instead of the standard knock-out format.

But on the brighter side, record entries of over 32 are participating on the Pretoria courts in some of the younger groups that are divided into five-yearly age sections from as young as 30 to 75.

"And the relative standard of the players is particularly pleasing too," said Van der Schyff, "with more and more younger players joining the veterans ranks and ensuring the continuation of an ongoing competitive level for longer than in the past."

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