JOHANNESBURG – CEO of Tennis South Africa Richard Glover has lauded the feats of the three South African players who flew the country's flag with distinction to great acclaim at the All England club over the past few days.
Kevin Anderson, Raven Klaasen and wheelchair star Kgothatso Montjane all helped to raise the country's profile at Wimbledon with outstanding performances.
Glover's statement in part reads: "These three players must receive all the credit for what they have achieved, but at the same time TSA thanks the trio for putting local tennis back in the public spotlight.
"Kevin, Raven and KG come from diverse backgrounds and have followed diverging paths to get to where they are. As a result, their achievements will symbolise different things to different communities across our country.
"From a TSA perspective, the trio obviously represents the best of local tennis, but more importantly they also symbolise what local tennis could become on a consistent basis – diverse, inclusive and delivering on a global stage.
"Indeed, the collective achievement of all three players has the potential to significantly advance the efforts of TSA - to both redress past imbalances and enable more emerging South African tennis players to achieve similar success.
"Kevin's 2018 Wimbledon was so much more than the final – it was a fortnight of magnificent performances, extreme physical endurance and displays of awesome mental strength.
"However perhaps most impressive were his post-match interviews, in which he displayed his integrity, sportsmanship and humanity. He is an incredible ambassador for our sport.
"My view that TSA did not do enough to support him earlier in his career is well documented.
"My opinion on this remains unchanged and as a Federation, we are trying to learn the lessons from the past and put in place a more comprehensive programme to support our elite junior players and rising stars.
"For example - this year at Wimbledon we had a player feature in qualifying for the men’s singles and two players participate in Junior Wimbledon (one in the main draw and one in qualifying).
"All three of these players have received a level of support from TSA in the past 12 months – be it financial support or assistance with obtaining ITF grants or travelling coach support.
"Meanwhile, elsewhere within our structures, we also now provide monthly funding to five players in our Davis Cup and Fed Cup teams.
"Is it a step in the right direction? Yes, it is. Is it enough? No, it is not. Far more needs to be done."
"Next to Raven. His run to reach the men’s doubles final also requires massive congratulations.
"It is a great personal achievement, but also a historically significant one as well - for the transformation of tennis in South Africa.
"Raven is a wonderful role model and leader in our sport and, mark my words, could well be a future president of Tennis SA.
"People criticise tennis in South Africa for being elitist and not doing enough to transform the game. We take that criticism to heart and are committed to inclusive growth via several key interventions.
"To mention just two of these interventions - we are busy rolling out five Growthpoint Development Centres in historically under-serviced communities in South Africa.
"Three are in place, with two more to follow. These have both a grassroots and high-performance focus – grassroots in terms of growing tennis participation in those communities and high performance in terms of giving the most talented kids in those communities a real chance to compete at a higher level."
African News Agency (ANA)