Constantia duo take aim at tennis world record

Cape Town tennis players Carlos Gomes and Wendy Thompson are aiming to break the Guinness World Record for the longest singles tennis match to raise funds to revamp tennis facilities in the Western Cape townships of Khayelitsha and Khayamundi.

The pair plan to get their bid, to set a new world record of 65 hours of unbroken tennis at the Constantia Tennis Club, underway on Friday 3 February, aiming to top the current record of 63 hours, 27 minutes and 40 seconds set by a German duo two years ago. If all goes according to plan they will set that new mark at dawn on Monday 6 February.

The bid has been sanctioned by the Guinness Book of Records, which will scrutinise every minute of their bid, allowing them five minutes per hour rest, which they plan to accumulate to allow them to catnap for 45 minutes every twelve hours.

“We are also allowed the usual ATP rules of time between matches and sets,” said Gomes, a sales rep and the current chairperson of the Constantia Tennis Club that will host the record attempt.

He said that the idea came about after he and Wendy Thompson went to Khayelitsha to play a league tennis fixture.

“The facilities are really poor, to the point that many clubs actually forfeit their matches if they are drawn to play in Khayelitsha,” said Gomes.

“We played our match – and lost actually!” he added. “However, we had our best ever tennis experience there. There was such enthusiasm for the game and the Khayelitsha members were super friendly and hospitable.”

The pair immediately started looking into ways to raise the funds needed to refurbish the courts, install partition fencing between the courts, repair the broken fencing and build a clubhouse at the Khayelitsha facility.

Through an NGO called Kingdom DNA they found out about a similar facility at Khayamundi in Stellenbosch that was in desperate need of repair, and they set their sights on raising the cash required by challenging for the arduous Guinness World Record.

The pair, both in their 40s, have been training intensively for the challenge, and completed a 24 hour trial that exposed them to some of the rigours they can expect from their planned 65 hours of tennis.

“The trial went well,” said Thompson. “I just have to get Carlos to calm down at times because he is such a competitive tennis player that he can get carried away! And you don’t want that to happen when you are trying to conserve energy.”

They are canvassing personal and corporate sponsors to back them by the hour during their challenge, while also seeking support from the tennis industry and construction firms that might be willing to assist with the refurbishment and repairs at the courts in Khayelitsha and Khayamundi.

The 65 Hour Challenge to break the Guinness World Record for the longest singles tennis match gets under way at the Constantia Tennis Club at 17h00 on Friday 3 February, and intends to finish at 10am on Monday 6 February 2017.

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