SA stars to face international elite

tennis19 February 2024 16:20
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Isabelle Kruger @ Getty Images

Five South African players will join another 27 participants from around the world when they battle it out for top honours and lucrative prize money in the first of two successive WIPHOLD International women's tournaments which gets underway in Pretoria on Tuesday.

With opportunities being provided for local players at the ITF World Tennis Tour W50 event, the host country will be well represented in the main draw.

The SA contingent features four wildcard entries - Isabella Kruger, Zoë Kruger, and junior prospects Kaitlyn Ramduth and Danielle Dai Chapman - as well as teenager Lilitha Ndungane, who progressed through the qualifying rounds.

SA's top-ranked player, Isabella Kruger (the world No 738), is up against Indy de Vroome of the Netherlands in the first round on Tuesday, while Kruger faces a stiff challenge when she meets No 8 seed Manon Leonard of France.

Ndungane and Ramduth will square off against each other and Chapman meets Dutch qualifier Demi Tran.

In a quality line-up, which includes 17 players who are ranked among the top 500 in the world, the likes of Bazil's Lora Pigossi and Gabriela Knutson of the Czech Republic - both ranked in the top 200 - are expected to lead the charge in the chase for the trophy.

Top seed Pigossi, who earned the doubles bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics three years ago, will face Belgium's Amelie van Impe in the opening round.

No 2 seed Knutson, who enjoyed a superb 2023 season by raking in four singles titles on the ITF circuit, will open her campaign this week against qualifier Amelia Waligora of Belgium.

The tournament is one of two back-to-back ITF W50 events being played at TuksTennis, which are both offering massive prize purses of $40 000 (R760 000).