Johannesburg – While Tennis South Africa (TSA) hopes to draft Kevin Anderson back into the Davis Cup team, the federation insists the country's top-ranked player will need to ease up on his demands.
Anderson made himself unavailable for last week's World Group playoff against Canada in Montreal, and the South Africans failed in their bid to qualify for the top tier of the global team competition for the fourth year in succession.
Ian Smith, the TSA chief executive, said on Tuesday that if Anderson was to play in the Davis Cup again, he would need to understand the financial constraints faced by the federation.
“It depends on his demands,” Smith said.
“Other players are playing (Davis Cup) for nothing, and though we appreciate what he has done for SA tennis, Kevin needs to understand where SA sport in general stands with regards to funding and sponsorship.”
Smith said TSA, which rescinded home ground advantage against Canada due to a lack of finances, shared payments between Davis Cup players, but Anderson had received a significant amount more than the rest of the team members when he had turned out in last year's competition.
“We have always tried to get Kevin to play Davis Cup,” Smith said.
“Last year we paid him a sizable amount of money to play two ties.
“Each time we play a Davis Cup tie overseas we cover flights and accommodation, and we also have a full-time physiotherapist with the team.
“Last year, when Kevin was injured in Potchefstroom, we still paid him.
“This year he asked for what we considered a little too much money.”
Anderson defended his Davis Cup withdrawal last week, stating on his blog that fear of injury and loss of income had contributed to his absence from the tie.
While South Africa were struggling to a 4-1 defeat against Canada, Anderson was playing for the Sacramento Capitals in the World Team Tennis competition.
And while Anderson stated in his blog that he had made himself unavailable for the Davis Cup months earlier, Smith said SA captain John-Laffnie de Jager had kept negotiations open until a month before the tie, in the hope they could meet Anderson's financial demands.
Anderson had initially told TSA he was unavailable due to a knee injury.
“He did say he was injured and we accepted that,” Smith said.
“We wished him well and hoped he would be able to get ready for tournaments he was scheduled to play after the Davis Cup.
“We were disappointed to find out he was playing in the World Team Tennis finals.”
Smith believed no other previous South African player, including former world number six Wayne Ferreira, had made financial ultimatums for Davis Cup availability, and he hoped Anderson would be able to represent the country in future.
“Players have never made demands on us,” Smith said.
“Going back, although it was before my time, I don't think even Wayne Ferreira made financial demands.
“But going forward we wish Kevin well and we hope he will play for us in future.
“We don't have anything against him and we would love for him to play Davis Cup.
“We will talk to him about the way forward.” – Sapa