South Africa’s second highest ranked women’s tennis professional, Chanel Simmonds, will fly the home flag at the upcoming Women’s Soweto Open, at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Complex in Soweto from 6-11 May.
Simmonds is the only South African to make the direct acceptance list for the event, and joins a star-studded international field of direct acceptances by the ITF for the iconic tournament (Full list follows below).
The 20-year old Kempton Park star was one of South Africa’s top junior players, and since turning professional two years ago, has impressed on the world tour. Simmonds is also a member of the South African Fed Cup team.
“I’m very happy to be coming back to South Africa and playing at home. We don’t often get the chance to play at home in front of our family and friends, so I hope to do well and take advantage of being a home town girl,” said Simmonds.
Twenty countries will be represented in the main draw. The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has published the final acceptance list of 24 players for the tournament, which has a prize money purse of R500 000.
Heading the player list is world number 114, Timea Babos of Hungary. The twenty-year old won the singles title in Mexico, and has three doubles titles to her name. Ranked as high as 59 in the world last year in August, the Hungarian has earned over R4 million since turning professional in 2009.
Last year Babos shocked former French Open champions, Ana Ivanovic of Serbia, en route to winning her maiden title in Mexico.
Twenty-two year old up-and-coming star Tadeja Majeric of Slovenia will also be travelling to South Africa. Majeric is ranked at 163, and already this year won the title in Innisbrook and reached the finals in Port St Lucie, and semi-finals in Muzaffarnagar, India.
An exciting addition to the draw is 17-year old Anett Kontaveit. Kontaveit, ranked 379 in the world, regarded by many as the star of the future.
The exciting Estonian junior reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open in January, and last year was a finalist at the junior US Open and reached the semi-finals of the junior grand slams of Wimbledon and Roland Garros.
Kontaveit is hoping to use the Soweto Open as her spring board onto the senior rankings.
The 24 direct acceptances will be joined by four qualifiers and four wild cards to be announced next week.
ITF Direct Acceptances for the 2013 Women’s Soweto Open: Timea Babos (HUN) 114 Tadeja Majeric (SLO) 163 Chanel Simmonds (RSA) 163 Nadiya Kichenok (UKR) 172 Lyudmyla Kichenok (UKR) 223 Elitsa Kostova (BUL) 257 Magda Linette (POL) 261 Samantha Murray (GBR) 267 Ons Jabeur (TUN) 274 Zuzana Zlochova (SVK) 280 Aleksandrina Naydenova (BUL) 283 Basak Eraydin (TUR) 288 Jovana Jaksic (SRB) 290 Pemra Ozgen (TUR) 297 Nicole Rottmann (AUT) 343 Margarita Lazareva (RUS) 346 Teodora Mircic (SRB) 349 Melis Sezer (TUR) 372 Oksana Kalashnikova (GEO) 375 Anett Kontaveit (EST) 379 Emily Webley-Smith (GBR) 416 Jade Windley (GBR) 434 Justyna Jegiolka (POL) 437 Nicole Melichar (USA) 453