Tennis South Africa (TSA) CEO Richard Glover has admitted that his organisation had in the past not done enough to support Kevin Anderson.
Anderson gave South African tennis a significant boost this past fortnight with his run to the US Open final, where he lost to world No 1 Rafael Nadal.
Glover, on behalf TSA, extended a message of congratulations to Anderson for reaching his first Grand Slam final.
“On behalf of TSA I wanted to extend our congratulations to Kevin Anderson for his fantastic performances in New York over the past fortnight. This message of thanks comes not just from the board and the administrators at TSA, but far more importantly from junior tennis players, club tennis players and senior (veteran) players across South Africa. People who love our sport and want to see it grow and thrive,” Glover said via a press statement released on Monday.
However, in some quarters there has been negativity towards Anderson, who has made himself unavailable for the country’s Davis Cup team for the past six years.
“Personally, I do not think Kevin has received the credit he deserves in South Africa (excluding the last few days of course!),” Glover continued. “He is a great ambassador for our sport – he is an intelligent and thoughtful man, a person of class, quality and character, who cares about the country of his birth. I think these attributes have shone through in both his on-court interview, as well as the press conference, that took place immediately after the final.”
Regarding the issue of whether TSA had done enough in the past to support Anderson, Glover elaborated:
“I only joined TSA towards the end of last year, so I have little in the way of first-hand experience of what has happened historically between Kevin and TSA. However, after having spoken to Kevin, his mother, as well as several TSA stalwarts, who have been in the system for years, I have come to conclusion that – while our federation has supported Kevin more than most people realise, on balance we have not supported him enough.
“In short, both he and his family have made huge sacrifices to get him to where he is today. This is their triumph – not ours. Indeed, the reality is that Kevin has long since passed through our tennis structures and he doesn’t need assistance from TSA anymore – but we need him!”
Glover said Anderson’s run in New York will do wonders for the game in South Africa and they will be looking to capitalise to help grow the game.
“We believe that Kevin’s heroics in New York will inspire a generation of young South Africans from all communities to play tennis. It shows that through courage, determination and hard work, a player from the southern tip of Africa can make it on the global tennis stage,” Glover said.
“TSA is learning from the past to ensure that the next generation of Kevin Anderson’s (and their female equivalents), who are inspired by this wonderful story, are provided the necessary support structures to – 1. get into the game, 2. grow in the game and 3. stay in the game for life.
“TSA has a new eight-year plan to grow our sport in SA and while we are in the early stages of executing on this plan, there is a lot of positive energy and signs of progress. The five new sponsorships we have secured since the start of 2017 have allowed us to start investing in these support structures – especially in terms of junior tennis, young high-performance players, as well as in the transformation and grassroots development space.” – Sport24