TSA 'is backing' Simmonds
Johannesburg - Tennis South Africa (TSA) is not ignoring the potential of Chanel Simmonds, and made a concerted effort to help the 20-year-old prospect in her Australian Open campaign, according to TSA chief executive Ian Smith.
Smith was reacting to comments by Simmonds's coach, Earl Grainger, that a lack of sponsorship and interest from the national federation had left his prodigy without a mentor to guide her in Australia.
"Naturally it would have been better for Chanel to have been accompanied by her regular coach, but it was wrong to suggest that she had been thrown to the wolves when she came within a whisker of qualifying for the main women's singles draw at the Australian Open," Smith said on Tuesday.
"Because of financial constraints, we are simply not in a position to finance the travelling expenses of the players' coaches, but South African Davis Cup and Fed Cup captain John-Laffnie de Jager is present at the Australian Open with a mandate to guide and assist the South African players wherever possible.
"We know he helped Chanel whenever he could and we have a letter from Chanel thanking us for this help. Also, seasoned South African players Rik De Voest and Natalie Grandin are in Australia and were in Simmonds' corner."
Smith said Simmonds planned to continue her experience-building programme by playing in two Challenger tournaments in Malaysia.
He added that TSA would help where it could, while taking into account the financial climate.
Meanwhile, top South African player Kevin Anderson received a boost prior to his second-round game at the Australian Open, after fighting back from a set down to beat Italian Paolo Lorenzo in his opening game.
Expected to play Argentina's formidable Juan Monaco in the second round of the Melbourne grand slam event, Anderson's ongoing progress would appear to have been improved by the surprise defeat of the11th seed at the hands of Russian Andrey Kuznetsev.
The Russian is ranked 79th in the world - against Monaco's 12th ranking - and this presents Anderson with an inviting opportunity of qualifying for a third-round match-up against either 22nd seed Fernando Verdasco or Belgium's Xavier Malisse.
At the same time, the latest world rankings released by the ATP this week elevated Anderson's ranking from 36th to 31st - only three places below his career-best of 28th.