WTA Tour

Fed Cup nightmare for SA tennis

2017-04-24 11:32
Earl Grainger (Photo: Reg Caldecott)

Cape Town - It must seem after South Africa's unprecedented Fed Cup nightmare during the Euro-Africa Group 3 playoffs in Lithuania in the past week - and consequent relegation to what is the fifth tier of the competition - like a million lightyears since the memorable World Group Final triumph at an enthusiastic and exuberant Ellis Park in 1972.

And in case anyone with a hazy memory of the golden era of South African tennis believes the success over Great Britain engineered by Brenda Kirk and Pat Pretorius was an isolated success, the 1972 victory was followed with another notable final appearance against eventual winners Australia in 1973 - not to mention the annexation of the men's Davis Cup during the same period.

Now after failing to win a single match in 3-0 defeats against Norway, Slovenia and Sweden at the Siauliu Tennis School in Lithuania, capping the whitewash with a 2-0 defeat against Egypt in the relegation decider, it's a descent to Euro-Africa Group 3 of the Fed Cup for South Africa in 2018.

All this after team captain Earl Grainger had before the debacle described his squad of Chanel Simmonds, Ilze Hattingh, Madrie le Roux and Makayla Loubser "a fantastic mix of youth and experience".

Grainger, however, is a ring-hardened tennis scrapper who was probably only out to encourage confidence in his players - following it up with the comment "I am under no illusion of the task ahead of us and that survival in the group is of the utmost importance."

It has not worked out that way and Tennis South Africa, despite recent evidence of a new innovative and enlightened approach, will need to return to what is commonly referred to as the drawing board to fathom out why the country has failed to keep pace with the worldwide improvements in tennis standards.

The next looming acid test, of course, is the Euro-Africa Group Two Davis Cup promotion decider against a moderate Denmark team in September from which success is a matter of urgency - and no stone should be left unturned in seeking this morale-booster.

Read more on:    wta tour  |  fed cup  |  sy lerman  |  earl grainger  |  tennis
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