by AKANI CHAUKE
JOHANNESBURG – MORE than 120 coaches and officials left in desperate need after the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak wrecked the tennis season have been cushioned from the devastating impact of the lockdown.
The technical personnel benefitted mostly form the distribution of electronic food vouchers under the Tennis Cares fundraising drive, an initiative of Tennis SA (TSA) and partners.
TSA confirmed 123 individuals had received support to date from the scheme.
The tennis mother body confirmed a further 23 personnel will be assisted this week and would be contacted shortly.
An independent panel of Tennis Cares met earlier this week to review the ninth batch of the funding applicants.
According to the association, the assistance provided is specifically in the form of electronic food vouchers that can be used at leading retailers in the country.
Tennis coaches and other officials were left in a lurch after a lockdown imposed by the government of President Cyril Ramaphosa at the end of March led to a prohibition of sporting activities.
Major tournaments in the local and international circuits have been postponed.
Locally, this included the SA Spring Open scheduled for September and October.
COVID-19 cases have surged between the announcement of the lockdown to date.
However, there is a glimmer of hope regarding the return of the sport after TSA recently confirmed all categories of club tennis players could resume play. All categories of coaching can return.
This is subject to all players and facilities complying with strict safety measures put in place to ensure observance of national government protocols.
Meanwhile, another racquet sport, badminton, has confirmed a return, based on a phased-in approach.
Badminton SA confirmed the breakthrough after Sports minister, Nathi Mthethwa, approved its proposal to return to court.
The return will be in three phases, starting on Monday with only normal-risk players in national teams and training academies.
The last phase will be on August 27, to include social players and players older than 60 years of age.
Glen Brothers, BSA president, said the approval of the operational plan was a positive step forward.
“We are happy to begin the process of resuming to normal play,” he said.
Mthethwa however warned the plan would be revoked if any venue or club did not adhere to safety protocols outlined by the government.
The government will conduct spot-checks.
“I understand that we have all have been waiting for this and urge all provinces, clubs and players to follow the guidelines,” Brothers appealed.
– CAJ News