Ruan Roelofse and Raven Klaasen ion action during a recent Davis Cup match. Photo: Deryck Foster/BackpagePix

Sport seems to be a place where creative managers and chief executives go to die.

In South African sport there are only a few examples of administrators who have not been corrupted by the nature of the positions they have to hold.

The sports industry is no longer so glamorous for the honest unselfish type of servants who are involved in their respective codes for the pure love of it.

The ringleaders of national and international sport are often seen as the well-connected dinosaurs who only serve the people that put them into their positions.

Perhaps we expect too much from our administrators but tennis has recently proved that it is possible to take a professional approach in an amateur environment.

Tennis SA’s (TSA) appointment of Richard Glover as chief executive has been a stroke of genius.

In Glover, the federation has a young and vibrant chief executive who is able to adapt to the brave new world.

I’ve said it before that he is young enough to speak to millennials and experienced enough to interpret the gibberish the marketing types like to use.

The former Arsenal Football Club executive took the reins of the federation a year ago and has made more deals in 12 months than most sporting federations have in the last four years.

Glover has secured sponsorship's from Growthpoint Properties as headline sponsor to the sport with a focus on development of the sport.

He has also secured the signatures of Axnosis and KIA Motors South Africa to sponsor the South African Davis Cup team.

The appointment of South African Davis Cup captain Marcos Ondruska at the end of 2015 also deserves a pat on the back for TSA’s leadership.

Ondruska has instilled some continuity and confidence in the team and was a key player in their promotion to Davis Cup’s Europe / Africa Group 1 competition.

While TSA can hardly claim responsibility for Kevin Anderson’s recent appearance in the US Open final against Raphael Nadal, it will help with the current programme to grow the sport in the country.

After Anderson’s defeat to Nadal, TSA admitted it did not do enough to support the country’s top singles player over the years and vowed to give the country’s top talent better backing.

“We believe that Kevin’s heroics in New York will inspire a generation of young South Africans from all communities to play tennis,” Glover said.

“Personally, I do not think Kevin has received the credit he deserves in South Africa (excluding the last few days of course!).

“He is a great ambassador for our sport - he is an intelligent and thoughtful man, a person of class, quality and character, who cares about the country of his birth.”

In the same media statement, Glover also dispelled the notion that Anderson had been unpatriotic for declaring himself unavailable for the Davis Cup team over the past few years.

“I think these attributes have shone through in both his on-court interview, as well as the press conference, that took place immediately after the final,” Glover said.

“Kevin’s performances have also placed tennis in South Africa in the spotlight, in a way we haven’t experienced in many years.”

This was a refreshing response from a South African sporting federation and one can only hope other codes can admit to their shortcomings and take on their challenges head-on.

Too often in South African sports and politics our shortcomings and failures are brushed off as the bitching and moaning of the overcritical media.

I tip my hat to TSA and its leadership, just because they are breaking the mould in South African sport.


Saturday Star

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