The reigning champion f the McDan Open Tennis Tournament, George Darko says he is confident of retaining his title even though the tournament is opening up to players from West Africa.
The tournament which is the biggest in Ghana, is entering a third year and will come off from April 25 -30 at the tennis courts of the Accra Stadium.
Darko, who beat his long-time rival Japhet Bagerbaseh last year in a thrilling final has since featured in many tournaments on the continent. The biggest of these was the All Africa Games where he partnered Wisdom Na Adrago to win Ghana’s historic first gold medal in the last edition of the All Africa Games in Congo.
“I know it will be tough because I know some of these players and meet them periodically on the circuit. But I have gained considerable experience and playing time and will bring all these to bear when we all clash on the courts,” he said.
One of the attractions is a total prize package of 5000 US dollars, and the fact that new rivalries will be created amongst players from different countries, brings a new buzz of excitement amongst the players.
The staging of this tournament follows a promise by the headline sponsors McDan Shipping at the closing ceremony of last year’s tournament, to extend the competition beyond Ghana. In a separate interview, Mr Daniel McKorley, the executive Chairman of the McDan Group said “we set out to create internationally competitive players from the onset and we are on course. Our players must be able to face the stiffest competition and eventually break into the ATP rankings. So extending the McDan Open Tournament to West Africa is only a step to achieve a greater aim in the future.”
According to him, the gold medal winning feat of McDan Opens defending champion, George Darko and his team mate Wisdom Na Adrago at the last All Africa Games is a testament to the positive impact the sponsorship is making. “I am glad that within the space of two years, the McDan Open Championship has become a breeding ground for winners of major silverware. This inspires me to do more,” Mr McKorley said.
Mr McKorley motivated the national tennis team (Golden Rackets) who featured at the All Africa Games with a total cash package of GH¢24,000 upon their return to Ghana last year. His outfit McDan Shipping also earlier sponsored the team to undertake a training tour in Morocco ahead of the All Africa Games. “I am commited to helping the revival of Ghana tennis and these laurels are only the starting point. With bigger commitment on our part, we will achieve even more,” he said.
Over 100 players are expected to play in the week-long tournament which is expected to attract players from Benin, Togo, Burkina Faso, Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire. This year’s edition of the tournament is sponsored by McDan Shipping with technical support from the Ghana Tennis Federation (GTF) and the Confederation of African Tennis (CAT).
From The Sports Desk