Tennis greats bemoan SA duo
Johannesburg - Veteran Wimbledon finalist Kevin Curren and quarter-finalist Abe Segal on Tuesday bemoaned the disregard of top South African tennis players Kevin Anderson and Chanelle Scheepers towards the Olympic Games.
Curren and Segal, two former icons of South African tennis, felt the attitude of Anderson and Scheepers was unfortunate as South African tennis had a long-standing tradition at the Olympics.
South Africa rank behind only the US, Great Britain and France as the fourth-most successful nation in the tennis events at past Olympic Games, with six medals in all - including the gold medals achieved in men's singles by Charles Winslow in 1910 and Louis Raymond in 1920.
The world rankings of Anderson and Scheepers would have made them automatic qualifiers for the world's pinnacle sports event had they made themselves available to play for South Africa in Davis Cup and Fed Cup matches respectively earlier in the year.
Instead, the 33rd world-ranked Anderson is the only player among the leading 35-ranked men in the world who did not seek entry into the Olympic Games.
And Scheepers, who is now based in the US, has been quoted as saying of the South African tennis administration: "when I needed help from them it was not forthcoming, but now they want me to help them out."
"I don't understand their attitude at all," said Segal.
"I would view it as an honour and privilege to be able to participate in the Olympic Games.
"Personally, I would have given an arm and a leg to have participated in the Olympics but, unfortunately, during my playing career, tennis was not an Olympic sport."
Tennis returned to the Olympics after an absence of 64 years in 1988.
In 1992, South Africa's Wayne Ferreira and Pietie Norval were silver medal winners in the Olympic men's doubles.
"The return of tennis to the Olympic Games came too late for me," said Curren, a dual Grand Slam finalist.
"It was always a great regret in my career that, because of the boycott, I was never able to represent South Africa in either the Davis Cup or the Olympic Games."
"It's really a shame not to be represented in this year's tennis event particularly when it is being staged at Wimbledon," added Segal.
"And players like Anderson and Scheepers are good enough to be there."