Johannesburg - Former South African doubles star Abe Segal is concerned about the future of men's tennis in the country, with most players having dropped significantly in the world rankings this season.
Apart from top-ranked SA men's player Kevin Anderson, who is ranked 33rd, the others who turn out on the ATP Tour have taken a uniform nosedive.
"What I find most disturbing is that our top players are getting on in years," Segal said on Tuesday.
"Unlike in the past, there are precious few, if any youngsters who look as though they could make an impact on the international scene in the future."
Veteran Rik De Voest has fallen from 131st at the start of the year to 173rd in the latest ATP rankings released on Monday.
Izak van der Merwe, a Davis Cup regular in recent years, has deteriorated from 124th at the start of the season to his current 155th place.
The trend continues with Raven Klaasen, another Davis Cup regular, slipping from 269th place to a deflating 349th.
Ruan Roelofse, rated by SA Davis Cup captain John-Laffnie de Jager as South Africa's most promising up-and-coming prospect, is down from 421st to a present 476th, and Fritz Wolmarans has hurtled in a downward direction from 310th to 510th.
De Voest is now 32 years old, Klaasen is 29 and Van der Merwe 28.
Nikala Scholz, who made a big impact at the now-dormant SA Open at Montecasino two years ago as a 19-year-old, recently turned 21.
Rather than making continued progress, however, his world ranking has tumbled from a career-best 580th to 1056th.
"The standard of tennis worldwide has improved to an awesome level of skill and stamina," Segal said.
"It is difficult to keep up with this continually growing expertise, but it's more than that.
"Somewhere along the line there is something we are not doing right in South African tennis."