I am proud of Kevin Anderson. There, I’ve said it, and I do not care about the hate mob who still believe he is a traitor for putting his career first instead of playing Davis Cup for South Africa.
I am proud of Kevin for sticking it out and surviving in one of the toughest global sports.
I tip my hat to Kevin for not giving up on his dream, despite years of injury frustrations.
This week, Anderson became the first South African since Wayne Ferreira at the 2003 Australian Open to make it to a Grand Slam semi-final after beating American player Sam Querrey 7-6, 6-7, 6-3, 7-6 in their US Open quarter-finals.
By reaching this point – and at the time of writing Anderson was yet to play his semi-final – he has done more for South African tennis than he would have playing in the third tier of the Davis Cup.
For years Anderson had to endure unwarranted criticism that he has chosen self-interest over that of his country.
He has been called a traitor for having the audacity to following his dream of establishing himself among the top singles players in the world.
Instead of risking injury to play Davis Cup tennis for little or no incentive, Anderson pursued his dream.
Through dogged determination, he slowly climbed the ladder, reaching a career top-10 in October 2015 after reaching his first Grand Slam quarter-final at the 2015 US Open.
Instead of focusing on his achievements, Anderson continuously had to explain why he was unavailable for Davis Cup.
“The unfortunate reality is that the current scheduling and format would require me to make major sacrifices in the way of travel, training, rehabilitation and preparation for major tournaments, like Wimbledon,” Anderson explained in a 2015 column on supersport.com.
“Ultimately, such a sacrifice would compromise my results and any hope of competitive representation for South Africa at Grand Slam tournaments.”
His dream was temporarily deferred as injuries saw him plummet down to 80th on the world rankings, but Anderson dusted himself off to come back even stronger.
When Anderson walks on to the court in a major Grand Slam match with the South African flag behind his name, it should be enough reason for us to say we are proud of him.
Speaking of proud, the Proteas team continue to establish themselves among the top teams of world netball.
The Proteas won their first Netball Quad Series match with a 54-51 victory over the England Roses in Invercargill, New Zealand last weekend.
They nearly beat world numbers one and two, Australia and New Zealand, the week before.
They lost to world champions Australia by six points, their best performance against them since 1967, while only seven goals separated them from New Zealand.
This has been a marked improvement over the past year, where they have gone from a 31-point defeat to New Zealand in Durban in January to coming close to beating them.
Netball South Africa (NSA) should receive credit for instilling a culture of excellence in the national team.
It was a masterstroke by NSA to appoint Proteas mentor Norma Plummer, who coached Australia to gold medals at the World Cup in 2007 and 2011.
NSA has also established a strong local league, while more top locals are playing in semi-professional and professional leagues in England, Australia and New Zealand.
The sport has made massive strides in terms of transformation, and the federation has made a concerted effort to develop coaching talent.
The team’s transformation has been a thing of beauty, and has raised the hope that they would soon be the force they were in the 1990s, when they won the silver medal at the 1995 World Championships in England.