Tennis Europe and Tennis South Africa have announced WTA Future Stars plans, which will lead to top under-14 and under-16 players from their regions qualifying for the prestigious global final at the end of the season.
Thanks to a new agreement between Tennis Europe and the WTA, this year’s top European players will be invited to showcase their talents at the WTA Future Stars event which will be played alongside the season‐ending Shiseido WTA Finals Shenzhen in China.
Four top players from each of the 14 and 16 & Under age groups of the Tennis Europe Junior Tour will qualify to compete at the event against leading players from other regions.
“WTA Future Stars began as a grassroots initiative in 2014 and has expanded continuously in subsequent years,” said Melissa Pine, WTA Vice President, Global Program Development. “Now also shining a spotlight on high performance players from around the globe, the program provides once‐in‐a‐lifetime development and mentorship opportunities from the stars of the WTA. We are delighted to work closely with Tennis Europe to empower the next generation of young girls in the region.”
While in Shenzhen, the young athletes will have the opportunity to see first‐hand the WTA’s top players in action and to benefit from the advice of the WTA Future Stars Legends and Ambassadors. With matches played on the same courts as the Shiseido WTA Finals Shenzhen, the event offers big match experience and the chance to play on the same stage as the Top 8 female players in the world.
Tennis Europe President Ivo Kaderka comments: “As a regional association of the sport’s governing body, the ITF, our focus is to support European talents on their way to becoming professional players. Together with the ITF, we are implementing important enhancements to the Player Pathways for all top juniors. This additional opportunity provided by the WTA gives extra unique opportunities to a select group of players, and we are very thankful for both partnerships.”
Tennis South Africa has also confirmed that a WTA Future Stars event will be taking place in South Africa in 2021. The format was due to debut in the country last year, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The South African leg of WTA Future Stars will be hosted as part of the 2021 Growthpoint Junior Nationals – which is scheduled to take place in Bloemfontein in April. The players who win U14 and U16 singles titles, respectively, at the local event will earn the right to represent South Africa at the WTA Future Stars global final at the Shiseido WTA Finals Shenzhen in November.
Richard Glover, CEO of TSA, hailed the news as an exciting boost for women’s tennis in the country: “While we are disappointed that WTA Future Stars could not take place in 2020, we are very excited to have another opportunity later this year. WTA Future Stars will add an exciting dimension to our Growthpoint Junior Nationals and it will also provide two of our emerging young female players with a unique life experience – both on and off the court. We also believe this new collaboration with the WTA will lead to other exciting opportunities for our female tennis players, in the coming years.”
WTA Future Stars was established in 2014 and includes participating countries such as Australia, Canada, China, Great Britain, India and the USA. This year, players from more than 25 countries and regions will make the trip of a lifetime to Shenzhen, where they will pit their skills against their peers and benefit from a diverse off-court program including development seminars and mentoring by some of the greats of the game.
In 2019, the WTA Future Stars finalists had the chance to attend meet-and-greets with WTA Legends and WTA players like Martina Hingis, Mary Pierce, Simona Halep and Bianca Andreescu, receive mentorship from Zheng Jie, Alicia Molik, and Casey Dellacqua, and attend clinics hosted by WTA Finals Community Ambassador Judy Murray.