Johannesburg - Former world No 3 Amanda Coetzer and South African tennis star has congratulated current South African No 1 Chani Scheepers for winning her maiden WTA title in China on Saturday.
Chani Scheepers ended an eight year drought for South Africa as she won the Wanlima Guangzhou International Women's Open in Guangzhou, China beating Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia 6-2, 6-2. Scheepers had not been beyond the quarter-finals of any WTA tournament before Guangzhou.
The 27-year-old seventh seed is the first South African to win a WTA trophy since Amanda Coetzer won Acapulco in 2003.
"My congratulations go out to Chani on winning her first title. She has proved to us all and to herself her capabilities and now she has to prove to us all and to herself that she can consistently compete at the top and win more titles," said Coetzer.
"I have always believed Chani has these capabilities and have watched her progress with interest. I wish her all the best going forward and congratulate her on this important breakthrough. It's great that a South African has once again taken the podium on the WTA Tour" said Coetzer from Los Angeles.
Scheepers had her easiest match of the week in disposing of the eighth seed Rybarikova in the final.
Prior to that she had battled through each round with three set victories including having to fight back from 4-1 down in the deciding set to beat top seed Maria Kirilenko in the semifinal.
Scheepers also saved match point in her second round match against Hsieh Su-We.
Scheepers, who could well improve on her highest ever ranking of 65 in May this year when the new rankings are released on Monday, took just under an hour-and-a-half in beating her under-par opponent, who had won her previous two WTA finals.
"All of my other matches were really tough, but today was the day everything seemed to click," Scheepers said. "I thought I was hitting my groundstrokes well today. I was really consistent and tried to move her around.
"I didn't give her a lot of mistakes. I played well. I don't remember much about the match point, I was so in the moment. I know it was a long point, but it seemed so long ago. Every match before the final was difficult. It seemed like I was fighting every match and all of them were hard in their own way.
"I'm really happy to have won my first WTA Tournament. It meant even more, because every match on route to the final I had to fight back from behind to win it. I will definitely take a lot of confidence out of this tournament," she said.
"Nothing changes next week though, I will still go out and compete for every point, win or lose. I'm also really excited at this stage of my life to find out what I am truly capable of."
Scheepers said to emulate Coetzer was really special.
"Amanda has always been a player I have looked up to. In my junior days when I lived in Harrismith in my native Free State, Amanda invited and sponsored Karin Coetzee and Noleen Uys, mother of former Pro Player Rene Uys, to go with me on a trip to the USA where I went to train at her training base, the Dennis vd Meer Academy. I was 12 and will never forget the influence that had on my young career.
"Being the first since Amanda Coetzer is the cherry on the cake."