ATP Tour

Time for SA’s Harris to test mettle on ATP Tour

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

Cape Town - He is currently playing in the yacht-filled historic Turkish coastal resort of Antalya with ongoing success in a tournament on the relatively minor ITF circuit

And, no doubt, it may seem like plain sailing for gangling, 20-year-old Lloyd Harris, South Africa's top, perhaps only major genuine tennis prospect in the past 10 years, to participate once more in an environment in which he has won 10 titles in the past two years.

But with the ITF recently naming Harris as one of 12 highly promising male and female players who will receive a R750 000 grant from the controlling body of world tennis, it would seem an opportune time for Harris to gauge his potential in the deep end rather than remaining a big fish in a small pool.

And this requires for Harris to try his luck on the tough and testing ATP circuit, if not by attempting to qualify for elite World Group tournaments by playing in Challenger events in which he would be more than competitive.

Instead of tournaments like the one in tranquil Antalya, where Roman Emperor Hadrian basked in 130 AD and had Adrian's Gate named after him, a good number of players to whom the ITF have now donated their R750 000 windfall, took on the awesome undertaking of playing in the qualifying segment of the current French Open Grand Slam event at Roland Garros.

They might have met with limited success, not surprisingly, but, no doubt, their ambitions were sign-posted in the right direction.

Tennis South Africa's controlling body has not been noted in the past for providing sufficient finance and encouragement to exceptional prospects - Kevin Anderson is a notable example of someone who had to make it largely on his own - and more might certainly have been done for Harris, particularly as he stands out like a sore thumb as the only local youngster who can venture into the realms of the big-time.

Up to a point, Harris has performed exceptionally well to reach a world ranking in the vicinity of 250 and achieve success against limited opposition in the Davis Cup, but those who have witnessed his progress as a youngster in Cape Town believe he could progress a lot further.

Players like Alexander Zverev, Dominic Thiem, Nick Kyrgios, Lucas Pouille and others have all in recent years made their mark as ATP stars at a similar age to that of Harris.

Now it's time for South Africa's number one prospect to tip-toe into the deep end, leave the comfort of events in which he has already proved himself and join the big guns - or time will run out for him to know how far his undoubted potential will ultimately carry him.


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England 165/7 (58.3 ov)
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England 165/7 (58.3 ov)
Pakistan 326
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