Photo: Srdjan StevanovicAna Salas-Lozano (ESP)
South Africa will host Seniors competition for the first time in over a decade next week when the Young Seniors World Team Championships comes to Cape Town on 19-24 March.
Eighty-five teams from 25 nations will head to South Africa’s second largest city for the first staging of the official international Seniors team competition in the nation since Durban played host to the event in 2006.
As well as those who have never played professionally, over 70 former ATP and WTA-ranked players will take part in the team event, including two former Top 100 players in USA’s Debbie Spence-Nasim and Clare Wood of Great Britain.
Spence-Nasim reached a career-high ranking of No. 35 in 1986 a year after reaching the fourth round at Roland Garros, while Wood, who was born in South Africa, ranked at No. 77 back in 1994 having reached at least the second round at each of the four Grand Slams.
Both players will take part in the Women’s 45 Margaret Court Cup in Cape Town. Wood, alongside teammates Michelle Oldham, Joanne Shepherd and Chrissie Runnicles, will hope to wrestle the title back from defending champions Spain and emulate the 2015 Great Britain team that recorded a first triumph in the women’s 45 event when it was held in Antalya two years ago.
Six cups are taking place in all at the Young Seniors World Team Championships - the Italia Cup (Men’s 35), Tony Trabert Cup (Men’s 40), Dubler Cup (Men’s 45), Suzanne Lenglen Cup (Women’s 35), Young Cup (Women’s 40) and Margaret Court Cup (Women’s 45).
Host nation South Africa has entered a team in all six cups and will be keen to improve on its performance at last year’s Young Seniors World Team Championships in Umag, Croatia, where an eighth-place finish in the Young Cup was its best result across the event.
Netherlands headlined last year’s competition in Umag by winning the Suzanne Lenglen Cup, the Italia Cup and the Dubler Cup. After three runner-up finishes, they will have particularly high hopes of taking home the Tony Trabert Cup for the first time since 2013 this year, with Bart Beks, the world No. 1 in the Men’s 35 division, part of their Men’s 40 team in South Africa.
Spain will also hope for another strong showing this year having picked up the titles in the Young Cup and the Margaret Court Cup in 2016. Ana Salas-Lozano, who ranks at No. 4 in the Women’s 40 and Women’s 45 divisions, leads their tilt to defend the Margaret Court Cup crown that they won for the first time last year.
Players will line up for solo glory at the Young Seniors World Individual Championships the week after the team event at the same venue on 25 March-1 April.
Click here for the full list of participating nations.