Johannesburg - Doubles extraordinaire Raven Klaasen believes South Africa could see an upsurge on the international tennis scene.
Klaasen has been one of the success stories in recent years carving out a career as a doubles specialist. His efforts led to an appearance in a title match at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals last month.
The 2014 Australian Open doubles runner-up was feeling bullish about the sport’s future in light of changes at administrative level.
“To me we are at a turning point, we’ve had some tough years with South African tennis but there are some new faces behind the scenes coming in and there are some real things being done to try and move the sport forward again,” Klaasen said yesterday.
“Unfortunately, in tennis we are competing against some other big sports and to get interest in the sport is quite tough.”
Klaasen reached a career high doubles ranking of ninth in July while the South African and his American partnerRajeev Ram moved up one spot to sixth place on the world team rankings.
Klaasen was feeling confident about the combination’s chances of claiming major titles in future as they build on this year’s successes.
He admitted tennis faces some challenges such as a weakened Rand but he believes it can be bridged with some clever manoeuvring.
“I’m quite positive about the outlook of tennis and I think some good people with good credentials are doing good work behind the scenes and hopefully we can see that coming through in the coming years.”
Newly appointed Tennis SA (TSA) chief executive Richard Glover recently touted resurrecting the Super Squad system from the 90's where world-class players such as Wayne Ferreira and Amanda Coetzer emerged from the system before it was derailed due to a lack of finances.
Klaasen said establishing a similar programme would go a long way in returning tennis to its former glory.
“That is certainly something that is exciting, if you break it down to the sort of basics of a super squad and putting players of a certain calibre together to drive each other is great,” he said.
“I think competition breeds class.”