Rain can't dampen Soweto Open
It is not the South Africans who are the favourites among the supporters at the Soweto Open, being played at the Arthur Ashe tennis centre in Soweto. Rather, it is German top seed Dustin Brown who is attracting the most support.
Jamaican-born Brown, who changed his nationality in October last year to that of his German grandparents, is keeping the local crowd entertained.
For the spectators, predominately primary school children from the surrounding areas, it is probably the best chance they have to watch an international sporting event, and it is refreshing to see youngsters playing tennis on nearby courts – sometimes in complete darkness.
These surrounding courts are a far cry from the international-standard courts being used at the main event, but the initiative from organisers to get local kids involved in the event (which has free entry) seems to be working.
This week, the tennis has been affected by rain interruptions and Thursday was no exception, with only just over an hour of play possible.
During the longest interruption, while the rain stopped and the courts were being dried out, mostly with towels from the groundstaff, the children were allowed onto the centre court.
The music from the sound system was turned up and the kids danced for small prizes. The music continued throughout the delay and the children were well entertained.
"Today, with the rain, we felt it was important to get the kids involved in some sort of activity. We chose their favourite song, and got them all onto the court," said media liaison Bruce Davidson.
"The kids here at the Soweto Open from the surrounding areas really enjoy being part of the action. We normally, during the semifinal and final, try and pump up the music, and create a good atmosphere and try and promote crowd interaction. The aim is to try and make the kids feel they're part of the action.
"There are a lot of kids here who have never played tennis and being exposed to a top professional event really helps in promoting the game," said Davidson.
The men's quarterfinal, as well as the the men's doubles matches scheduled for Thursday, had to be postponed, with four women's singles matches and one doubles quarterfinal still to be completed.
The number-one seed Anne Keothavong of England was 2-1 up in the third set of her match against Eirini Georgatou of Greece.
The No 2 seed, Czech Petra Cetkovska, looks on course for victory against Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands, as she won the first set 7-6 (6) and was 5-1 up in the second.