SA tennis coaches double-faulted in coronavirus lockdown

Earl Grainger (Gallo Images)
Earl Grainger (Gallo Images)

Independently employed, South Africa's band of tennis coaches have been financially double-faulted in the current coronavirus lockdown - with none more so than former Fed Cup captain and ATP Tour player Earl Grainger.

Now running his own academy, which numbers approximately 400 of the country's tennis players, Grainger employs 11 assistants who have under their charge many of South Africa's most promising development prospects.

"In keeping with the lockdown generally," says Grainger, "tennis in South Africa at all levels has come to a dead standstill, not only affecting myself and my 11 assistants, but also some great prospects at the most inopportune time of their development."

The former South African Fed Cup captain points to the budding group of players under his charge who had travelled overseas to further their careers in ITF tournaments early in the year at substantial financial travel expense to themselves.

"They were not only deprived of the valuable experience of playing in tournaments that were summarily cancelled," said Grainger, "but also having to return to South Africa without funds that had been accumulated over years.

"For these youngsters it's a case of the chance of a lifetime going awry,'' said Grainger, "with the prospect of starting all over again in building a financial base to make another sortie on the overseas circuit when matters are normalised.

"I've tried to keep the players in my academy in touch with advice and tips over the internet," he added, "but it's hardly the real thing in maintaining momentum."

As for the coaches in Grainger's academy, they have been deprived of the source of their incomes, while contemplating when the "double fault" situation caused by the virus pandemic will be replaced with the chance of delivering aces once more.

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