Tennis SA says that that nurturing new talent in SA had come to a standstill. Photo: Reg Caldicott
Tennis SA says that that nurturing new talent in SA had come to a standstill. Photo: Reg Caldicott

Tennis SA rallies for game time following good news for golf

By Herman Gibbs Time of article published May 7, 2020

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CAPE TOWN – News that Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa is considering allowing golf to return during the lockdown has raised optimism in tennis circles.

Tennis, like golf, is a non-contact sport and soon the government may ease restrictions. Players and coaches can easily adhere to the strict new health and safety regulations to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Tennis is prepared to take it a step further and wear a glove on the hand which is not used for holding the racquet so that when picking up a ball, players or coach won’t necessarily be in contact with an exposed surface.

Tennis SA chief executive Richard Glover said a fair amount of work has been done behind the scenes and he is hopeful that players and coaches can soon return to action. He was deeply concerned about the long-term damage tennis will suffer because of the Covid-19-enforced break.

“It is a worrying time for every individual in South Africa, not only for the tennis fraternity,” said Glover. “Covid-19 has deeply impacted on life. The uncertain climate makes it difficult for planning from a long-term perspective.”

Glover said there were no obvious solutions to the problems facing tennis as well as other sports codes.

“There is no rule book for how to handle this pandemic - the rule book is being written at the moment,” said Glover.

“I think our government should be complimented for the risk-free and conservative approach they have taken in the matter.

“I do however worry about the long-term damage that the crisis and the regulations around it will do to the very fabric of grassroots sport in the country.

“It is a massive concern, not only for tennis but for all sport. I worry about a blanket approach because it does not take into account the difference between attending a sporting event and playing or practitioning sport.”

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Tennis SA’s Director of Tennis, Jeff Coetzee, said that in past months major work had been done to identify new talent around the country, and that nurturing those had come to a standstill.

“A lot of spadework has gone into laying the foundation of a new generation of South African tennis talent,” said Coetzee. “Coaches are crying out to resume work so that they can care for these players. The national lockdown has seen all coaching programmes come to a grinding halt."



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