ATP Tour

Tough baptism for SA tennis prospect

Lloyd Harris (Reg Caldecott)
Lloyd Harris (Reg Caldecott)

Cape Town - Top South African prospect, Lloyd Harris, put up a brave showing in his opening game of Canada's Granby Bank tennis tournament, but experienced the enormity of the challenge ahead as he attempts to move up a notch on the highly competitive international circuit.

Harris had the misfortune of coming up against Japan's canny, 145th-ranked Go Soeda in his  debut appearance on the North American Challenger circuit and went down 3-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7/5) in an evenly-contested first-round game in the picturesque town of 65 000 residents on the outskirts of Montreal.

After compiling a world ranking in the 250s, largely through successes in third-tier ITF Futures tournaments, it seemed timely for the 20-year-old Harris, who with Kevin Anderson's continued unavailability has emerged South Africa's number one Davis Cup player, to pit his talents against players in a higher bracket.

But the luck of the draw was not on the side of the Cape Town-bred youngster when he drew the experienced, third-seeded Soeda in his opening game of the R1.3 million tournament that offers  an inviting amount of approximately R175 000 to the winner - decreasing systematically to R13 000 for first-round losers.

The cut-off for automatic entry into the Granby Open was a ranking of 315th and Harris's handlers have revealed he will now attempt to play in as many Challenger tournaments as possible before making his initial appearance in a Grand Slam event in the qualifying segment of the US Open in five weeks’ time.

And whatever the outcome of his sortie into the North American season, the experience should stand him in good stead before the Euro-Africa Group Two promotion playoff against Denmark in Denmark in September.

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