Johannesburg – Three of South Africa's greatest tennis players, Wayne Ferreira, Cliff Drysdale and Frew McMillan, are among the varied international recipients of the ITF's “Davis Cup Commitment” awards.
Ferreira and Drysdale were both consistently ranked among the top 10 players in the world.
Doubles specialist McMillan was in the forefront when South Africa won the Davis Cup for the only time in 1973, when India refused to compete in the final for political reasons.
Also honoured were Roger Federer, John McEnroe, Andre Agassi, Manuel Santana and Lleyton Hewitt.
The Czech Republic's Tomas Berdych was rewarded after helping his country to a dramatic Davis Cup title in the final against Spain earlier in the week.
With 122 nations competing in the event, it is the largest annual team competition in international sport.
The nominations, however, were not limited to outstanding performers in the Davis Cup, with awards also going to those who had played most often in the competition like Domenico Vicini, who had represented San Marino in more than 60 ties and was currently the most active participant at 41.
Conspicuous among the absentees was McMillan's long-time doubles partner, Bob Hewitt, who was recently stripped of his place in the international Tennis Hall of Fame following a protracted investigation into sexual abuse while serving in his capacity as a coach.
Another absentee was current top South African player Kevin Anderson, whose refusal to participate in a succession of crucial Davis Cup ties over the last three years had aroused a great deal of controversy.
“The Davis Cup is not only the biggest annual international sporting team event,” said a statement by the ITF, “it is also arousing amazing and widespread enthusiasm in Europe and Asia, with the traditional stalwarts like the United States and Australia struggling to keep pace with Spain and other emerging powers.” – Sapa