Little hope for SA tennis at Olympics

2015-08-17 13:54
Tennis SA (File)

Cape Town - Notwithstanding an auspicious record in Olympic Games tennis - with only the United States, Australia and Great Britain having secured more gold medals - the prospect of South Africa having any tennis representation in the four-yearly sporting showpiece in Brazil next year is bleak indeed.

This was confirmed on Monday by Clark Coetzee, who oversees international team events  and selections on Tennis South Africa's executive.

"In line with the formula for participation in the Olympic Games agreed between the International Tennis Federation and the IOC, the only South African with the necessary credentials to cement a place in the Rio de Janeiro tournament  among the 64 singles participants is current world 16th ranked Kevin Anderson,” said Coetzee.

"But the ruling that only players who have made themselves available to represent their country in Davis Cup or Fed Cup selection over the past three years on at least one occasion effectively disqualifies Kevin from selection."

This leaves South Africa with only a glimmer of hope of gaining a place in the Olympic Games men's doubles, an event in which Wayne Ferreira and Pietie Norval secured the country's last Olympic Games tennis medal in Barcelona in 1992 after reaching the final against the powerful German combination of Boris Becker and Michael Stich.

But while Raven Klaasen, with a 24th world ranking would effectively be positioned to qualify for the men's doubles, the next best available South African, Dean O'Brien, is ranked 131st and the composite rankings of Klaasen and O'Brien would not be good enough.

This means that South Africa's only chance of inclusion in the Olympic Games' tennis doubles requires Klaasen to improve his ranking to a place in among the top 10 players, which would then satisfy the ITF ruling that the leading 10 players and their partners, if reasonably ranked, could participate in Rio de Janeiro.

What a contrast this dire situation is to the Olympic Games tennis tournament in 1912 when South Africans dominated the event, with Charles Winslow winning the singles after beating fellow-South African Harry Kitson in the final, with Winslow and Kitson annexing the gold medal in doubles as well.

Louis Raymond won the Olympic Games singles tennis gold medal in 1920 and Winslow earned a bronze medal, while a disagreement between the ITF and the IOC then resulted in tennis not taking up a place on the Olympic Games roster for a period of more than 60 years - with Ferreira and Norval then completing South Africa's tennis medal tally in 1992 of three gold, two silver and one bronze.

Read more on:    atp tour  |  wta tour  |  olympics 2016  |  tennis

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