Pretoria - New South African Fed Cup captain, Rene Plant, has applauded the International Tennis Federation (ITF) in creating an ITF Women in Sport Committee to promote equal opportunities on and off the court.
A total of 185 representatives from a record 65 nations, including South Africa, were invited to serve on a range of ITF committees, commissions and task forces that assist the ITF and its board of directors across key areas of the sport at all levels.
Committee members include representatives of the ITF board, member nations and other individuals with specific areas of expertise. In line with the ITF2024 strategy, the 2018-19 appointments reflect the ITF’s drive for diversity, gender equality, inclusion and cooperation.
The goal of the Women in Sport Committee will be to advise and make recommendations to the ITF board of directors on ways of promoting equal opportunities for girls and women to participate in tennis and the leadership of the sport. The Women in Sport Committee will be chaired by USTA president and ITF board member Katrina Adams.
ITF president David Haggerty commented: “Tennis can be proud to be a sport that provides equal opportunities on the court, but we recognise that this is not yet reflected in leadership roles at the highest levels. In addition to increasing the number of women on our own committees, we see the creation of a new ITF Women in Sport Committee as an important step in promoting equal opportunities for girls and women to play tennis and assume senior positions in our sport.”
Plant said that women’s involvement in all facets of tennis needed to be boosted around the world and especially in South Africa: “As the new Fed Cup captain, it is also important to grow the pool of players that can be eligible for national duty. Since the retirement of our last top 100 ranked player Chani Scheepers, we have had to rely on Chanel Simmonds to fly the South African flag. There are a group of very good players currently at college in America, who are very keen to move on to the next step and compete on the WTA tour. We have to find a pathway for these players and help them realise their dreams to become professional tennis players."
Plant added: "We also have incredible talent in our country and we need to identify the potential and work with what we identify in a proper and structured manner to give those selected the best chance of playing Fed Cup for their country.”
Tennis South Africa (TSA) announced that it had put a women’s tennis task team together which would cover:
- School participation
- High Performance
Plant added that the task team of which she is part of was making excellent progress.
"Our sub group was tasked with finding ways of increasing female participation in the sport from a grassroots level. Our group have had many meetings and we have some exciting plans to introduce tennis to young female participants at a grassroots level to all corners of the country. Participating in this task force has made me aware of how many women are prepared to give of their time and expertise and who are passionate about improving all aspects of women’s tennis in South Africa. We cannot deny that we have some challenges facing us but TSA like the ITF are committed to improving, and promoting the women’s game by creating equal opportunities for girls and women to play the beautiful game.”