JOHANNESBURG - Tennis South Africa (TSA) has roped in 2017 ATP Coach of The Year, Neville Godwin, as a high-performance consultant on a part-time basis.
Godwin guided the country’s top men’s singles player Kevin Anderson into the world’s top 10 and in September assisted South Africa’s top singles player in reaching the final of the US Open.
Anderson announced at the beginning of this month he would be parting ways with Godwin after a successful stint of four years on the ATP World Tour.
The federation has been pulling out all the stops to return South African tennis to being one of the powerhouses of the sport by consulting former professional players on the way forward.
TSA chief executive Richard Glover said although Godwin would continue to coach on the ATP Pro Tour, they would be able to tap into his reservoir of knowledge whenever he is in the country.
“We are hoping his role with Tennis South Africa will grow over time but a key focus for him would be to work with our junior national age-group squads which we are investing in significantly over the next few years,” Glover said.
“He will also be on hand to help mentor the next generation of South African high-performance coaches.”
The 42-year-old Godwin, who is a former ATP professional player and Davis Cup player, said he hoped to make a meaningful contribution where the coaches and the players will be willing and open to his advice.
Hi all, a bit of news from Team Anderson. pic.twitter.com/jbqmxXlJ9s
“I am very excited to be part of Tennis South Africa and the process of moving forward, and I think we have exciting times ahead of us,” Godwin said.
“We have some great talent out there that we are looking to develop and exploit further.
“One of the biggest challenges will be to get everybody on the same page and working together and realise we are working towards a common goal.”
Godwin said although Anderson was currently the only SA player in the top 100 in the world in the singles rankings, the country was not lagging too far behind on the international stage.
“The players obviously have to spend a lot of money to travel overseas and we don’t get a lot of help in South Africa as they always have to travel to play which makes things a bit more difficult,” Godwin said.
“They have to gain more confidence by playing Davis Cup and get some continuity after Davis Cup. They historically play well in Davis Cup and eight to nine months of the year they are kind of left to their own devices.”
The former world number-90 ranked player said while he would be involved "across the board", he hoped to work with players that are inspired by Anderson’s heroics. “One of the most exciting age groups to work with is between 12 and 14, I think I’d be able to have a huge impact on them,” Godwin said.
“They have all recently started playing tennis and would have seen Kevin’s rise.”