Tough day at the office for SA players at Whiphold International

tennis14 March 2023 14:06
Timea Babos © Frennie Shivambu

It was a tough day at the office for the four South African girls on day 1 of main draw at the WIPHOLD International, a $60 000 prize-money tournament.

All four wild cards were eliminated in first-round encounters with straight-sets defeats at TuksTennis, University of Pretoria on Tuesday.

Top seeded Raluca Geogiana Serban of Cyprus, who is vying for her second W60 singles title, defeated South African wildcard Erin McKenzie 6-0 6-0.

Suzanie Pretorius put up a fight against Belgian qualifier Clara Vlasselaer, but lost 6-2, 6-2 to the Belgian world No 542.

Another South African wildcard, Marilouise van Zyl, went down to French world No. 366 Alice Tubello 6-2 6-1.

Despite the defeat, Van Zyl, 16, exuded confidence in the valuable experience she gained during the match.

"What a great experience to play in a $60 000 event; I learned a lot," Van Zyl said.

"It's great exposure for all South African girls; you don't get to play in a big tournament in your home country every day."

“I'm overjoyed that we have the opportunity to play and improve our game, and we appreciate everything Tennis South Africa and WIPHOLD have done to make this possible for us,” Van Zyl added.

Claire Jarama, another rising South African tennis star, was eliminated on Tuesday after losing 6-0, 6-0 to Italian qualifier Dalila Spiteri.

The remaining South African, Isabella Kruger, the country's top-ranked player, will begin her campaign on Wednesday against France's second seed, Chloe Paquet.

Kruger, 17, has never met Paquet, 28, who competed in the Roland Garros and Wimbledon Grand Slams last year but never advanced past the first round.

In another action, former world No.1 doubles player and four-time Grand Slam doubles champion, Timea Babos of Hungary, knocked out Russian sixth-seed Anastasia Zakharova 6-4, 6-2.

Babos, the 2013 Soweto Open champion, will face Alice Tubello in the second round and, if all goes well, could face American fourth seed Sachia Vickery in the quarterfinals.

Action at the TuksTennis Club, University of Pretoria will continue on Wednesday with the start of singles matches at 10h00am. Entry to the event is free, and spectators are encouraged to come and watch the matches.


[1] Raluca Georgiana Serban (CYP) bt [WC] Erin McKenzie (RSA) 6-0, 6-0
[5] Ipek Oz (TUR) bt Berfu Cengiz (TUR) 6-4, 6-0
Lulu Sun (SUI) bt [8] Mai Hontama (JPN) 7-5, 7-5
[Q] Dalila Spiteri (ITA) bt [WC] Claire Jaramba (RSA) 6-0, 6-1
Timea Babos (HUN) bt [6] Anastasia Zakharova (RUS) 6-4, 4-2
[Q] Clara Vlasselaer (BEL) bt [WC] Suzanie Pretorius (RSA) 6-2, 6-2
Alice Tubello (FRA) bt [WC] Marilouise Van Zyl (RSA) 6-2, 6-1
Sofia Costoualas (BEL) bt Lucie Nguyen Tan (FRA) 6-3, 6-1