JOHANNESBURG Tennis South Africa CEO Richard Glover believes the sport is making progress though he agrees there will always be positive and negative comments from players and the public.

In a letter published on Friday, Glover said: "I have no doubt everyone reading this will have an opinion (people in tennis being a very opinionated lot) – some will be positive, some will be negative, and some will be mixed….such is life. 

"But I think the collective performances of Kevin Anderson, Raven Klaasen and Lloyd Harris, in 2018, have clearly helped raise interest in tennis in South Africa…..and full credit must be given to these players for their achievements.

"I have recently concluded that TSA should never take credit for producing a WTA or ATP player. Ultimately this is down to the player, his/her family support network and coaching team." 

But Glover maintains that TSA’s role is to create an ecosystem that makes it as easy as possible for the best SA players to make it on the international stage.

"This is very much work in progress, but some of our recent attempts to strengthen the local tennis system include bringing more international tournaments to South Africa. 

"TSA was recently awarded a prestigious ITF Junior Grade A event for 2019 onwards. This is a massive coup for South Africa because there are currently only five Grade A events in the world – for example. 

"The Orange Bowl in the USA is a Junior Grade A event. A date and venue announcement will be made early next year, but it is set for late September – following on from the Curro ITFs in Stellenbosch. Special thanks must be given to our vice-president and president for securing us this event.

"Providing more financial support for our emerging players is something which has flown beneath the radar, but what has recently come into effect is the Growthpoint Thrive Fund. 

"Thanks to the generous support of our headline sponsor, Growthpoint Properties, 12 junior high-performance black players (six boys and six girls) have started receiving some financial assistance. The first funding cycle runs from November 2018 to the end of June 2019.

"We need to create more sustainable opportunities for black and/or female coaches. Good news is that the BNP Paribas Coaches Mentorship programme, which launched in 2018, returns in 2019 and, thanks to an increased investment from BNP Paribas, will double in size in year two," Glover added.  

African News Agency (ANA)