Gorny’s win shows flaws in tennis seeding

2010-08-11 00:00

BACK in South Africa on vacation, former Wykeham Collegiate schoolgirl Monica Gorny (19) cruised to the KeyHealth Dolphin Coast Open singles title in Umhlali.

The American-based Gorny, also a gifted academic who is studying on a tennis scholarship at Duke University in North Carolina, beat Durban’s Jenna Davidson 6-0 6-2 in the semi-finals before facing four-time winner Nicole Rencken in the title match.

Rencken is no slouch with the racket, having reached a world-ranking high of 283 in singles and 181 in doubles during her stint on the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) tour, but was no match for Gorny, who won the final 6-2 6-4.

In an earlier round, Gorny had demolished top seed Bintou Barry of Gauteng Central 6-0 6-0.

Gorny is excelling at Duke, the university team ranked seventh in the U.S. and which reached the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) Championships quarter-finals.

She reached the semi-finals of the National Indoor Championships and has enjoyed a number of wins over top-10 players while also qualifying for the dean’s academic award.

Hilary Greenwood, president of the Midlands Tennis Association (MTA) told The Witness last week: “The seedings for the tournament showed there is something seriously wrong with the present system.”

He said that as things stand, juniors playing in junior events get points on the national open ranking system.

“There are many, many junior tournaments, hence many juniors have open ranking points. The top open players in South Africa seldom compete in tournaments, as there are very few of them, and hence they have low rankings.

“In this tournament Monica, a top South African player, was unseeded,” Greenwood said.

“She played the first seed in the quarter-finals and defeated her 6-0 6-0. The Dolphin Coast Open’s other senior players, Nicole Rencken and Leticia Venter, were also not seeded, yet they are both senior provincial KZN players.”

Greenwood said as a consequence, it is not surprising to have two unseeded players in the final.

“In the men’s event we had the same situation,” the MTA president said.

“Boyd Michau, a KZN provincial player, was not seeded, yet there were a number of KZN juniors who were seeded who would be no match for Michau.”

Michau comfortably made the final before losing narrowly to Stephan Havenga, a smart senior player from Gauteng. Havenga played in the Braaiketts KZN Open Tournament at Kershaw Park in Pietermaritzburg earlier this year and just lost to top player Pieter Calitz in a tight match.

KZN Tennis Association president Gavin Crookes outlined the reasons why the seeding is as it is.

“The KeyHealth series is part of a national series so you need to play a certain number of matches in South Africa, and Monica is not playing here, so to be consistent, the fact she is not playing here means she doesn’t have a seeding,” Crookes said.

“With KeyHealth being part of a national series, if the tournament organisers make a subjective seeding you could have a problem. Bearing this in mind, if Hilary could devise a new system we will listen to him.”

Crookes appealed to players to play in more ranking tournaments. As things stand, most are in Gauteng.

“Wearing my KZN hat, I am delighted that Monica won, and at Boyd reaching the final, while in the subsequent KeyHealth tournament at Westridge Park, for which Monica was unavailable, KZN’s Lance Cohen and Rencken won,” Crookes added.

Meanwhile, the Durban-based KZN Tennis League has started.

In the Super League, PMB is represented by the Braaiketts Tennis Club in both the men’s and women’s events, while there is a combined KZN Midlands team playing in the women’s second division and a men’s team in the third division.

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