TWO Eastern Province youngsters are in line for major recognition when the Nike Junior Tour (NJT) SA Masters tennis event takes place in Potchefstroom from tomorrow to Sunday.
Heinrich Willemse, under-14 boys, and Carli van Onselen, U12 girls, have been named to play in Potch, with a trip to the NJT International Masters at stake.
The international event will be played at Club Med Sandpiper on the Florida coast in the US from December 7 to 13 and will comprise players from 33 countries. Only eight boys and girls in each of the U12 and U14 age groups qualify for this year's event and the four winners will earn the right to represent South Africa in the US in December.
Van Onselen is ranked sixth in the latest NJT SA points table, while Willemse has received a wild card for the event.
The Potch tournament will be played on a round-robin format.
Two groups of four players in each age group will play a round-robin (tomorrow and Saturday morning), with the top two point scorers in each group qualifying for the semifinals (Saturday afternoon).
The finals will be played at 9am on Sunday.
"We at Tennis South Africa (TSA) have always regarded the Nike Junior Tour as an excellent breeding ground for young talent," chief executive Ian Smith said. "It also affords our top youngsters the opportunity to travel overseas and experience playing against some of the best juniors in the world."
Many players started their careers by playing the Nike Junior Tour, the most famous being world No 1, Rafael Nadal.
Nadal played the NJT International Masters four times and won it in 1998, 1999 and 2000, which was at Sun City.
The only time he was defeated was his first event 1997, when he was just 11 years old and lost in the semifinals.
South African Kevin Anderson was in the first group of SA players to qualify for the international masters. He played at Stuttgart in 1998 and Barcelona in 1999.
The players are:
Boys, U14: Richard Thongoana (GC), Rossouw Norval (Bol), Bertus Kruger (GC), Philip Henning (FS), Lance-Pierre Du Toit (Bol), Jordan Sauer (GN), WC- Heinrich Willemse (EP), WC-Benjamin Liebenberg (KZN); U12: Joubert Klopper (FS), William Wilson (GN), Rudolf Lubbe (NC), Charl Morgan (GC), Wikus Robbertse (GC), Justin Cronje (Bord), WC-Kholowam Montsi (GN), WC-Ethan Lubbe (NWP)
Girls, U14: Zani Barnard (GN), Lee Barnard (GN), Minette Van Vreden Bol), Mila Hartig (GN), Maxine Bateman (KZN), Corin De Waal (Bol), WC-Jeanne Klopper (FS), WC-Danielle Luttig (WP); U12: Lara van der Merwe (NWP), Helena van Eeden (GC), Linge Steenkamp (FS), Carmen Fichardt (FS), Delien Kleinhans (FS), Carli Van Onselen (EP), WC-Makayla Loubser (WP), WC-Liezel Muller (NWP)