News24

Soweto Open to make a return

2012-10-26 14:20

Johannesburg - The Soweto Open tennis tournament, cancelled this season due to a lack of funding, will be played again at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Centre in 2013.

The Department of Sport and Recreation signed a R5 million one-year sponsorship deal with Tennis South Africa (TSA) on Friday.

"It's a great thing to have this tournament in Soweto. We could never allow the tournament to fade," said sports minister Fikile Mbalula.

"We need to rekindle the spirit of playing tennis, especially in under-developed communities."

Mbalula said the sports ministry would assist TSA in finding further funding for the tournament after the conclusion of the one-year deal.

The 2012 Soweto Open, which was set to be the fourth edition of the tournament, was called off in December last year.

Ian Smith, the chief executive of TSA, said at the time that the Johannesburg City Council, which had sponsored the event since its inception in 2009, had not renewed its contract due to financial constraints.

The abandonment left South Africa without a major tennis tournament this year after the ATP-sanctioned SA Open at Montecasino was also terminated.

SAPA