Cape Town - South African tennis ace, Raven Klaasen announced from London on Wednesday that he would be the ambassador of the upcoming ITF Futures tournament to be played in Stellenbosch.
The ITF Futures Series will be staged at the Maties Tennis Club on the grounds of Stellenbosch University from November 17 to December 9, 2018.
This is the fourth year of the series.
Klaasen said he was honoured to be part of the three back to back international tournaments for men and women which he felt were an important launchpad for young South Africans on the international stage.
“The Digicall Futures plays a vital role in the development of future stars. Lloyd Harris got his breakthrough into professional tennis through the Digicall Futures which he dominated resulting in him climbing up the world rankings. Also 15-year-old junior sensation Kholo Montsi won his first ATP point at these Futures which inspired him to greater heights,” said Klaasen.
Klaasen confirmed that he would attend a few days of each week long tournament to meet and speak to the junior players and sponsors and watch the talent on hand. “I look forward to being in Stellenbosch. I want to offer help and advice to our juniors and no better way than meeting them face to face and watch them play in the flesh.”
Tennis South Africa (TSA) confirmed that they were now a “shareholder” in the Tennis NPO that runs the Stellenbosch Futures.
Klaasen welcomed the news and said that in his discussions with TSA to become an Ambassador it was evident that TSA is planning to build on the success of the Digicall Futures by bringing more international tennis to South Africa in the coming years.
“There is a good vibe going on in South Africa about tennis. TSA in recent years have been pushing the right buttons and it seems that people are excited to be part of and play the game. We have seen a string of new sponsors partner with TSA and in my opinion, tennis is entering into exciting times. I never as a junior and young pro had the opportunity of playing the game in such exciting times so I hope to stretch my career a little longer than planned to be part of this new TSA era.”
Klaasen also confirmed that TSA were about to announce some exciting news in the junior international tournament space in the next few weeks.
Klaasen, who is 36-years-old says retirement is not planned. “I feel that my game and my body are in a good space right now and if Roger Federer can perform the way he does at the age of 37, I can too. Roger inspires me to play longer and harder.”
Being a proud Capetonian, Klassen had full praise for Stellenbosch and Stellenbosch University who he said were “increasingly becoming an important center for tennis in South Africa”.
“I can confirm that TSA has signed a partnership agreement with Stellenbosch University to build a national tennis center at the University. The project is in its early stages, but it will certainly help in the development of future stars” said Klaasen.
Klaasen who is in London for next week’s ATP Nitto Finals said his preparation for the top eight ATP Masters showdown was on track. “I jetted into London on Saturday from Paris and took some time off with the family who are here with me and yesterday started preparation for next week with my partner Michael Venus of New Zealand. It’s going to be a tough week. The top eight teams in the world are in town so each match is like a final.
“I am happy with our draw and the three other teams in our group. I feel a bit at home here in London as I have played in three previous ATP Nitto Finals and two years back was within points of lifting the title so its familiar territory for me. Michael and I just have to step up a notch and win the matches.”
Regarding Kevin Anderson, Klaasen said he had seen Anderson in London and confirmed that Anderson was putting in some hard work in preparation for next week. “Kevin is one of the hardest working players on the tour and has been so hard at work since arriving in London on the weekend. He is playing well, and the courts really suit his game he seems very comfortable on the indoor hard surface and I fancy his match ups in his group and really believe he can do well in London.”