SA’s drought of hosting big tennis events continues

Richard Glover (Photo: BLD Communications)
Richard Glover (Photo: BLD Communications)

Cape Town - The bid to end the seven-year arid drought of big-time tennis tournaments in South Africa during 2018 has culminated in frustrating failure.

This has been confirmed by Tennis South Africa CEO, Richard Glover, who revealed that the main reason for the impasse continuing was the failure to secure the kind of substantial sponsorship needed to lure a field that included some of the world's top players to South Africa.

"It was like an impassable wall we had to climb," added the TSA CEO, "before coming up with an objective that is undeniably important as an injection in boosting interest in tennis in the country to the high level it reached in the past."

Glover explained that while the proposed tournament would not have been ranked with official status on the major international circuits, it could have been a forerunner to regaining a position on the main worldwide men's ATP and women's WTA programmes.

The last time such an objective materialised was in 2011 when now world sixth-ranked South African Kevin Anderson won the first of his five ATP titles in the discontinued and sadly lamented South African Open at the Montecasino Entertainment Centre in Johannesburg.

Conceivably, it might have been suggested the iconic Roger Federer, whose mother is a South African, and Anderson, among others, may have been motivated to play in South Africa before the start of the 2019 ATP season as a gesture to help tennis in the country - at a suitable fee, of course - particularly as other sporting heroes and entertainment idols have been influenced in coming here in the year celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of Nelson Mandela.

Tennis, however, could not make the big breakthrough, although Glover says the elusive objective will continue to be pursued, with the hope of something materialising next year.

In the meantime, however, South African tennis received a second major blow in 2018 with the deflating Davis Cup defeats against Israel  and Portugal effectively ending hopes of qualifying for even the preliminary round  of the much-heralded and innovative new Davis Cup World Cup in Spain towards the end of 2019 - with Anderson, who could have made all the difference in the world, again unavailable in a continuation of his seven-year self-imposed absence from the historic competition.

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