The Rwanda Tennis Federation (RTF) president Theoneste Karenzi has said that the country is prepared and ready to host the ATP Challenger 50 Tour, marking a historic moment for Sub-Saharan Africa, and the eyes of the world will be on Rwanda. This comes after successful engagements held in December between ATP officials and the government of Rwanda through the Ministry of Sports. A delegation from ATP was in Kigali from December 10-14. ALSO READ: Rwanda set to host ATP 50 Challenger Tour This monumental event is scheduled to take place over two weeks, with the first week commencing on February 26 to March 2, followed by the second week from March 4-10, at the IPRC-Kigali Ecology Tennis Club courts. The Ministry of Sports is spearheading the event in collaboration with the tennis federation whose president, Karenzi, also doubles as the head of the local organizing committee. According to organizers, the event is expected to attract about 65 players (ranked between 150 and 300) coming from various parts of the world, who will be in Kigali to compete for valuable ATP ranking points on top of the prize money. Registration is ongoing with the final list expected to be announced in the coming days, officials say. The ATP Challenger Tour is the second-highest level of men’s professional tennis in the world. The most high-profile players, who are products of ATP Challenger Tour include, among others, current World No.2 Carlos Alcaraz (Spain), former World No.1s Roger Federer (Switzerland), Rafael Nadal (Spain), Andy Roddick (US) and former US Open winner, Juan Martin Del Potro (Argentina). Speaking exclusively to Times Sport, Karenzi said, We are honored to be able to bring these high-profile competitions closer to our players, which would otherwise be very expensive to expose them to if we were to fly them to other countries. The essence of hosting these [major tournaments] is, first and foremost, to develop Rwandan tennis by exposing our players to compete against high-ranked opponents, and also for them to learn and get inspiration from ATP level players, he noted. The decision to host the ATP Challenger in Rwanda comes on the heels of commendable success in (previously) organizing major tournaments, among them, the Kigali International Junior Open: J30 Kigali (20 countries), Billie Jean King Cup Africa Group IV (11 countries), Davis Cup Africa Group IV (8 countries), Rwanda International Junior Open: J60 Kigali (19 countries) and the Rwanda Open: M25 (17 countries). That led to the International Tennis Federation (ITF), players, and officials giving Rwanda positive reviews, commending the country for its infrastructure, organization, security, warm hospitality, and clean environment, Karenzi added. .... and that is how ATP picked interest in Rwanda and approached us with a proposal, which couldn't turn down, so we jumped on it and here we are getting ready to host the biggest tennis event (ever held) in Sub-Saharan Africa. It has ever been in Morocco and Tunisia but never in these parts of Africa. ALSO READ: ATP Challenger 50 in Kigali: Potential game-changer for “Visit Rwanda” The ATP's choice to bring the Challenger to Rwanda underscores the nation's rising prominence in the global tennis scene, as is with cycling (Tour du Rwanda) and Basketball (BAL). Karenzi also highlighted the benefits of Rwanda in hosting the ATP Challenger, saying they extend far beyond the realm of sports. The event is poised to stimulate local tennis development, offering aspiring players a unique opportunity to be inspired by the presence of ATP's top-ranked athletes. This exposure is expected to catalyze a surge in interest and participation in tennis across the nation. Economically, he said, Rwanda stands to gain substantially from the tournament. He mentioned that the influx of international players, some of whom will be accompanied by their parents, coaches and officials, is anticipated to boost tourism. All these people, while here for more than two weeks, will explore various points of interest, purchase local artifacts, and contribute to the local economy by spending on hotels (accommodations), transportation, and more, he said. For two weeks during the competition, some local businesses will have stands here (IPRC-Kigali), selling their products, so this is an opportunity. In collaboration with the local workforce, the organisers will create employment opportunities for extra personnel for the event, further solidifying the positive impact. Politically, the partnership with the ATP is not only a testament to Rwanda's growing sporting hand in terms of organization but also a strategic move that will undoubtedly enhance the nation's global image. The positive reviews and successful track record in hosting major tennis events have positioned Rwanda as a preferred destination for international competitions. As organizers, Karenzi confirmed that, We're good to go in terms of meeting the requirements by the ATP. Work on the courts is at 95 percent, and the rest of the infrastructure around the courts is also progressing to schedule. With every major tournament that we host, it leaves us with more and improved infrastructure, so the more events we have, the better our infrastructure gets, Karenzi acknowledged. Some of the infrastructure under construction at IPRC-Kigali Ecology Ecology Tennis Club, include, a club house that will accommodate offices, changing rooms, washrooms, massage rooms, as well as road leading there, which the official says will be ready by February 20, latest.