SA’s tennis players move up the ranks

MAIN MAN:  Kevin Anderson flew the country’s flag high when he became the first South African to make it to the US Open finals in 52 years. (Andrew Gombert, EPA)
MAIN MAN: Kevin Anderson flew the country’s flag high when he became the first South African to make it to the US Open finals in 52 years. (Andrew Gombert, EPA)

Johannesburg - Given the great showing South African tennis players had last year, the sky’s the limit if they pick up where they left off.

World No 14 Kevin Anderson made history in September when he became the first South African to compete in the US Open final since 1965.

Tennis SA (TSA) chief executive Richard ­Glover said Anderson’s achievement would ­inspire young South Africans to play the sport.

“Through courage, determination and hard work, a player from the southern tip of Africa can make it to the global tennis stage,” he said.

Defeated Denmark

Anderson ended last year with a bang by ­winning the 10th Mubadala World Tennis ­Championship in Abu Dhabi, United Arab ­Emirates, last weekend.

The exhibition tournament has been won by some of the biggest players in the sport, ­including Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and ­Rafael Nadal.

Anderson lost 7-6, 6-2 to Gilles Simon of France at Maharashtra Open final on Saturday.

Meanwhile, South Africa’s national tennis team was promoted to Davis Cup Euro/Africa Group I after they defeated Denmark in ­September.

Raven Klaasen and his American partner ­Rajeev Ram also made headlines when they won the Indian Wells doubles title after they beat ­Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo 6-7, 6-4, 10-8.

The win secured Klaasen and Ram their first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title as a team.

Under Glover’s leadership, local tennis ­secured sponsorships from car manufacturer Kia Motors, IT company Axnosis, sportswear company Lotto Sport Italia, telecommunications giant Vodacom and Growthpoint ­Properties.

Beach tennis

Lloyd Harris also made the country proud when he broke into the Association of Tennis Professionals’ top 200 rankings in October.

However, Glover said there was still a lot more to be done.

“We should be pleased with the progress made in 2017, but this is not the time to be ­patting ourselves on the back and going on about how wonderful we are".

Glover said TSA planned to develop beach tennis as well as the new professional junior national team structures.

“Hopefully, we will host a South African Open in the not too distant future,” he said.

TSA announced last month that the Irene Country Club will host the Davis Cup.

The national team’s match against Israel is scheduled for February 2 and 3 in the first round of the Euro/Africa Zone Group I playoffs.

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