ATP Tour

'Under-achiever Wolmarans can hit high spots'

2015-07-24 14:24
Fritz Wolmarans (Reg Caldecott)

Cape Town - As a junior he was ranked 12th in the world and last weekend while playing the key role in helping South Africa avoid ignominious relegation to the Euro-Africa Group Three segment of the Davis Cup, 29-year-old Fritz Wolmarans belatedly demonstrated the potential that has prompted team captain Earl Grainger to label him the country's "greatest tennis under-achiever."

"Although the 5-0 victory over Ireland in the relegation decider at the Irene Country Club might seem plain sailing," says Grainger, "it could have been a lot different had Fritz, now ranked 530th in the world, not upset Ireland number one and the 150th world-ranked James McGee in a tense opening singles match.

"It was that game that eased the pressure and set the tone for the entire tie," added the South African team captain, "and showed why many in the know had believed Fritz possessed the talent to forge a career to rank alongside some of the country's top players.

"It's mind-boggling to see him ranked only 540th in the world right now. At 6ft 6in, his booming serve is truly in world-class and there is no real weakness in his make-up.

"He showed what he is capable of doing in the previous Davis Cup tie against Turkey when he was shaded 8-6 by Turkey's 77th ranked Marsel Ilhan  in the fifth set of a high-class encounter."

According to Grainger, the Bloemfontein-born Wolmarans, who currently resides in the United States, has been blighted by injuries throughout his career, but he has also suffered because he has been "out on the road" in the gruelling international circuit without an adequate back-up team and financial support.

"It's excruciatingly difficult to make the big breakthrough into the top bracket without the right coaching staff," said the South African Davis Cup captain, "and this has been the drawback for many of our most promising players."

But Grainger, himself a former ATP circuit player, believes that on the evidence of what he has seen of Wolmarans' play in the Davis Cup ties against Ireland and Turkey, there is still time for the big server to scale the top heights.

"Fritz climbed to 198th in the world a couple of years back," added Grainger, "but he's got the ability to move into the top 100 and better if he steers clear of injuries and has the right  kind of guidance and support."

As a junior, Wolmarans had the beating of players like former United States Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro, who went on to climb to a world number three ranking, and Italy's Fabio Fognini, who has reached a world number 12 ranking.

Wolmarans lists surfing as one of his main hobbies right now and, who knows, South African tennis's "greatest under-achiever" could still fulfil Grainger's assessment and paddle his way to prominence on the ATP circuit.

Read more on:    atp tour  |  davis cup  |  tennis

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