06 Sep 2017

Grand Slam Development Fund assists junior players

News Article

By Sandra Harwitt

Photo: Susan MullaneMenelaos Efstathiou (CYP)

One of the important purposes of junior tennis is to prepare young players to become the future stars of tomorrow.

Undoubtedly, it is an expensive road from junior tennis to the pros, and many talented teens require assistance to develop into the players they would like to become. For young players who hail from areas where tennis is not as popular and available, following a path in the sport can be hugely difficult.

To facilitate the goal of spreading tennis throughout the world the Grand Slam Development Fund was established in 1986. The aim of the Fund is to encourage and increase competitive opportunities in developing tennis regions. With annual contributions from the four Grand Slam tournaments, the Fund has become an effective means to develop tennis interest worldwide.

Indeed, since the Fund came into being the Grand Slams have contributed over $48 million to tennis development across the globe. This year alone, $3.1 million has been made available to assist worthy players in their desire to choose tennis as a career.

At the US Open this year eight juniors - four boys and four girls - are competing as a result of their involvement with the ITF/GSDF 18 & Under Touring Teams to North America.

The boys’ team is comprised of Uisung Park of Korea, Alan Fernando Rubio Fierros of Mexico, Mohamed Ali Bellalouna of Tunisia, and Menelaos Efstathiou of Cyprus.

The girls’ team members are Sada Nahimana of Burundi, Naho Sato of Japan, Maria Camila Osorio Serrano of Colombia and Daniela Vismane of Latvia.

These eight teens are following in the footsteps of many players to have received assistance from the Grand Slam Development Fund in their formative development and have become well-known talents in the game.

In fact, among those players to have received past help from the Fund are South African Kevin Anderson, who is into his first Grand Slam semifinal at this US Open, and 2009 US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro, who defeated Roger Federer in the quarterfinals on Wednesday.

Other notable names to receive help from the Fund include Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus, Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria, Simona Halep of Romania and 2016 Olympic gold medalist Monica Puig of Puerto Rico.

Two of the boys’ on this year’s team at the US Open - Park and Efstathiou are into the third round of the singles event. Park upset sixth seed Yshai Oliel of Israel 57 64 60 in the second round, while Efstathiou upset seventh seed Trent Bryde of USA 63 64 to advance to the third round.

Due to inclement weather in New York on Wednesday, no junior matches were scheduled to be played.