Sinazo Solani tries out her new racket at the launch of the Anyone For Tennis development program at Mbekweni near Paarl. Photo: Thys Lombard

South African Tennis Association (SATA) President, Bongani Zondi made his first official public appearance as the newly elected President when he attended the launch of the recently revamped branch of the tennis development program Anyone For Tennis at Mbekweni near Paarl in the Western Cape today.

The Anyone For Tennis development program, at the refurbished tennis courts at Mbekweni sports grounds, is the product of the hard work of the members of Paarl Hugenote Tennis Club. The Paarl Hugenote Tennis Club also hosts the Paarl Tennis Clinic the oldest and most successful tennis development program in South Africa under the leadership of SA tennis legend David Samaai.

David and his brother Frank have served the community and South African tennis for longer than 60 years with this development program. Many first class and successful professional and provincial players were introduced to the wonderful sport of tennis by this program.

Both the Samaai brothers are in their eighties and still involved, however, coaches Aiden Demas and Thompson Ala will be in charge of these development program, which is supported by the Boland Tennis Association and sponsored by Bidvest.

Support by SATA and National Lottery Development Fund has provided the program with much needed rackets, nets, balls and shoes.

The successful product of a similar program in Okiep as well as South African Davis Cup and ATP star Jeff Coetzee, attended the launch. Jeff is on the board and ambassador of the Strand branch of the Anyone For Tennis programme.

Aiden Demas and the Anyone For Tennis players receive new tennis rackets from SATA President Bongani Zondi at the official launch. From left: Aiden Demas, Thompson Ala, Bongani Zondi, Jeff Coetzee and Kitto Arendse. Photo: Thys Lombard

“We can only discover the abundant talent in our wider communities through initiatives like this” said Coetzee. “I have travelled the country and visited so many previously disadvantaged areas and have been amazed by the tennis talent on offer. I am grateful to SATA, Boland Tennis and the community of Paarl for their initiative and am honoured to be an ambassador of such a fantastic project.”

Mr Zondi was accompanied by the SATA Vice-President Gavin Crookes, Board member Riyad Davidson and Chief Executive Officer Ian Smith, and the dignitaries that attended were Mr. Pieter Lourens of the Boland Sports Committee, representatives from the Drakenstein Municipality, President and Vice-President Boland Tennis Dr Danie Morkel and Dean Owen and Frank and David Samaai.