South African tennis prodigy Jahnie van Zyl has been selected to participate in the prestigious Grand Slam Player Development Programme. The initiative, organised by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and the Confederation of African Tennis, aims to foster the growth and talent of promising junior players.
Van Zyl, the reigning number 1 junior tennis player in Africa in the under-14 category, has consistently showcased her exceptional skills and determination on the court. Her remarkable achievements include securing second place in the African Junior Championships (AJC) earlier this year in Togo, as well as clinching first place in the Warm-up Tournament. She further cemented her prowess by emerging as the champion in both the singles and doubles categories at the 2023 Growthpoint Junior National Championships in the under-14 category.
As part of the Grand Slam Player Development Programme, Van Zyl will join a team of elite junior players and embark on a five-week journey across Europe. The itinerary includes an intensive training camp in France, followed by participation in five tournaments in France, Germany, and Belgium. The series of events is scheduled to take place from 6th July to 13th August 2023.
Expressing her gratitude and excitement, an elated Van Zyl commented, "It's a great honour to represent my continent, and I am very grateful for this opportunity. I am super excited to compete against players from European countries." With a strong determination to succeed, she added, "My goal is to be competitive in every match and to fight my heart out."
Van Zyl firmly believes in the talent and potential of African tennis players, stating, "I believe African tennis players are the most talented in the world and can achieve big things if they believe in themselves."
Commenting on Van Zyl's selection, Andre de Beer, Tennis South Africa High Performance Manager, said, "Jahnie's inclusion in the Grand Slam Player Development Programme is a testament to her outstanding skills and hard work. She has consistently proven herself as a rising star in African tennis. This opportunity will provide her with valuable experience and exposure to international competition, further enhancing her development as a player. We are extremely proud of her achievements and wish her all the best in this exciting journey."
The Grand Slam Player Development Programme, previously known as the Grand Slam Development Fund, was established in 1986 by the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments. Its primary objective is to provide players from developing tennis regions with increased competitive opportunities. Through the Programme, participants receive Grand Slam Player Grants, enabling them to gain invaluable international experience, including at the Grand Slams.
Two notable female African players have benefitted from the program, among them are Ons Jabeur, the Tunisian former world No 2 and finalist in the 2022 Wimbledon tournament, as well as Angella Okutoyi from Kenya, who won the 2022 Wimbledon junior girls doubles Grand Slam.