Nike Junior Tour ends world-wide

Picture: AFP.

The cancellation of the Nike Junior Tour (NJT) is disappointing, the owner of the tournament’s South African rights said in a statement on Thursday.

Bruce Davidson said the apparel manufacturers had decided to cancel the junior tour and restructure their tennis development focus.

“This is a major disappointment for local tennis development as the NJT, which catered for under 14 and 12 players, was one of the great success stories of junior tennis in South Africa,” Davidson said in a statement.

It was a very expensive exercise to run the tournament, used as a scouting tool, in 41 countries on five different continents.

“Without being able to do a proper scouting job at each of the 41 events, Nike had decided the NJT was not financially viable,” he said.

“Nike have decided to hold a NJT International Masters each year and they have assured me our South African juniors will be considered for this annual ‘invitation only’ event.”

In 1998, multiple Grand Slam winner Andre Agassi and former world number three Amanda Coetzer (patron of the NJT in South Africa) launched the local NJT at the Parow Tennis Club in the Western Cape.

South Africa was the first country outside Europe to be included in the NJT and top players such as Kevin Anderson, Izak van der Merwe, Chanel Simmonds, and Wayne Montgomery all participated successfully in the local NJT.

In 2004, South Africa won the NJT team trophy in Nice, France, and had been runners-up on four other occasions.

World number one Rafael Nadal is probably the most famous NJT graduate. He won three of the four possible NJT titles in which he participated, including the title at Sun City in 2000 when South Africa hosted the NJT International Masters.

Tennis SA (TSA) said it was negotiating with a possible sponsor to replace the NJT in the country.

“The NJT was so incredibly popular and successful it makes sense for TSA to replace it with a similar product and also include the older age groups,” acting TSA CEO Gavin Crookes said.

“TSA are well down the line in arranging this and an official announcement will be made shortly in this regard.”


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