Johannesburg - South African tennis star Lloyd Harris is one of 14 players from 12 countries who have been selected to receive the first ever International Player Grand Slam Grants financed by the Grand Slam Development Fund (GSDF).
The new programme will provide total funding in 2017 of $650 000 (R8.6m) to selected players from around the world as a contribution towards their competition-related costs with the aim of helping them to develop as professional tennis players and compete in Grand Slam tournaments.
The GSDF committee has awarded grants to players who meet specific age, ranking and regional representation criteria and show exceptional potential.
The following six men and six women will receive $50 000 (R660 000) grants: Lloyd Harris (RSA), Christian Garin (CHI), Ilya Ivashka (BLR), Jurabek Karimov (UZB), Duckhee Lee (KOR), Elias Ymer (SWE), Beatriz Haddad Maia (BRA), Ons Jabeur (TUN), Rebecca Peterson (SWE), Sabina Sharipova (UZB), Viktoriya Tomova (BUL) and Renata Zarazua (MEX).
In addition, Jose Statham (NZL) and Abigail Tere-Apisah (PNG) will both receive $25 000 grants as the highest ranked players in the Pacific region to ensure that at least one player from each region receives a grant.
Eight of these players - Garin, Ivashka, Lee, Ymer, Haddad Maia, Jabeur, Sharipova and Tomova - are competing in the Roland Garros qualifying event, which began in Paris on Monday.
US Open chairperson Katrina Adams said on behalf of the Grand Slam tournaments: “This important new initiative will provide necessary support to players that we believe show the potential to rise to the top of the game, ensuring that more nations are represented at the highest levels.”
ITF president David Haggerty commented: “I would like to thank the Grand Slam tournaments for their long-term leadership, commitment and support which has been invaluable to tennis development throughout the world, particularly in those nations with fewer available resources.”
The GSDF was originally established in 1986 to encourage and increase competitive opportunities in developing tennis regions. With annual contributions from the four Grand Slam tournaments, the fund has become an effective means to develop competitive tennis worldwide. The fund has contributed over $45mto tennis development since its inception, with over $3.1m available for distribution in 2017.
The fund is designed to encourage the establishment of both junior and professional circuits, and to assist players directly, through touring teams or travel grants, to gain international competitive experience. This has helped increase the number of nations represented in Grand Slam tournaments and other international competitions.
Two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka; former Australian Open and Roland Garros winner Li Na; and three-time Roland Garros champion Gustavo Kuerten are among the leading names to have been supported by the Fund.
Azarenka commented: “I was fortunate to receive assistance from the Grand Slam development fund when I was a junior. Having just learned about this new exciting programme, I am sure that this increased investment from the Grand Slam tournaments will further help talented young players from all over the world to compete at the highest levels.”
Lloyd Harris biography:
Date of birth: February 24, 1997
Place of birth: Cape Town
The rangy 20-year-old South African has a bright future, with plenty of international experience already under his belt. Three years ago, the 1.96m (6’5”) Harris became the first player from his country to compete in the tennis event at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, and has since become an integral part of the South African Davis Cup team - compiling a 6-2 win-loss record since making his debut in 2016. Harris has gone from strength to strength outside of competing in country colours, winning 10 ITF Pro Circuit singles titles - including six in 2016 - and four in doubles.