SA Davis Cup tie sponsorless

2012-02-27 15:53
SA captain John-Laffnie de Jager (File)

Johannesburg - The key South African Euro-Africa Group One Davis Cup tie against Slovenia at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Complex in Soweto in April is without a sponsor.

This was revealed on Monday by South African Tennis Association (SATA) president Bongani Zondi.

"It's tough enough securing tennis sponsorship of any sort these days," said Zondi.

"But what makes it more difficult for Davis Cup events is that the International Tennis Federation have their own worldwide sponsors for the event - and this makes it difficult giving any local sponsors the extent of mileage they demand."

Zondi added that in order to pursue SATA's development programme of tennis in previously disadvantaged areas - as well as aiming to give the South African team valuable crowd support - it had been decided to make admission free for the Slovenia tie.

"This is a further drain on finance," said the SATA president.

"But we must do everything within our power to again secure a place in this year's World Group playoffs by beating a tricky Slovenian team that recently showed their mettle in a 5-0 win over Denmark."

Zondi pointed out that South Africa had been in the World Group playoffs in each of the past three years, only to lose to India, Germany and Croatia, respectively, and to return to the prestigious main segment of the Davis Cup after more than a decade was a SATA priority.

Be that as it may, SATA is also battling to secure the televising of the South Africa-Slovenia tie, with negotiations ongoing with both SuperSport and the SABC.

"Unlike the soccer, rugby and cricket organisations, who are paid huge amounts for the rights to televise their fixtures, we are asked to pay the costs involved in televising important tennis events like the Davis Cup," explained Zondi.

Despite the money drain which had resulted in the Soweto Open being called off after the Johannesburg City Council had decided not to renew a three-year sponsorship, Zondi said attempts were still being made to reinstate the ATP Challenger event in 2012.

"SATA CEO Ian Smith and myself are currently in discussion with a potential sponsor and we may still manage to pull the Soweto Open, which is so vital for tennis in the context of development, out of the fire."

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