TV blackout for SA tennis
SA Davis Cup captain John-Laffnie de Jager (File)
Johannesburg - South African tennis, so often the Cinderella sport when it comes to TV coverage, will again face a blackout for the coming weekend's Euro-Africa Group One Davis Cup tie against Slovenia at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Complex in Soweto.
The fact that there will be no live TV coverage of the three-day event, which has far-reaching consequences for South African tennis, was confirmed on Sunday by Tennis South Africa (TSA) media consultant Bruce Davidson.
Davidson explained that SuperSport had informed TSA that new building construction undertaken by the Johannesburg City Council at the Arthur Ashe Complex interfered with camera vantage points and a high-standard live coverage was not possible as a consequence.
But Davidson was loathe to comment on whether a financial consideration had played any part in the live blackout - beyond confirming what is common knowledge in that TSA is currently under extreme pressure to obtain a sponsor to bolster the sport in the country. He said, however, that an overall package of the South Africa-Slovenia tie would be screened on SuperSport within the next couple of weeks.
To add to the dilemma, national broadcaster SABC has shown no interest in televising the Davis Cup in what would be a decided boost for South African tennis.
The revived ATP-sanctioned South African Open, which flourished at Montecasino over the past three years, was again discontinued this year and the burgeoning Soweto Open, an ATP Challenger event, has also fallen by the wayside after the Johannesburg City Council decided not to renew their sponsorship of the event.
It had been hoped progress in the Davis Cup would be the main vehicle for exposure of South African tennis in 2012, but this was dealt a hefty blow when South Africa's top players - the world's 28th-ranked Kevin Anderson and Rik De Voest made themselves unavailable for the Slovenia tie.