Anderson castigates TSA - and dumps 55 million South Africans

2015-07-04 10:00
Kevin Anderson (AFP)

Few South Africans, either in a sporting context or further afield, are afforded the opportunity of making a difference for their country to such a great extent as Kevin Anderson.

Instead the world's 14th-ranked tennis player has stoically declined to represent South Africa in Davis Cup competition since 2011.

The implication of this is that South Africa are currently precariously placed in the competition before facing a modest Irish combination in the coming weeks at the Irene Club on the outskirts of Pretoria in order to avoid relegation to the Euro-Africa Group Three segment of what the International Tennis Federation (ITF) labels "The World Cup of Tennis".

Euro-Africa Group Three is effectively the fourth tier of the Davis Cup and a descent into this lowly pool would be nothing less than a sad and embarrassing humiliation for one of the dozen or so countries who have been crowned Davis Cup champions.

And without the 29 year-old, 2.07m (6-foot-8) Anderson, who has currently been blasting his barrage of big serves at Wimbledon, it is a real possibility in view of the fact that the next highest South African is ranked 389th in the world.

But that is by no means the end of the story of a player who could have done so much for his country - in view of the dearth of other top-level talent - and has chosen instead to remain on the sidelines of the Davis Cup.

Had Anderson consistently made himself available for Davis Cup action these past years, South Africa may well be positioned in the World Group of the competition along the elite players of the game - and what a motivational boost that would have been for South African tennis, burdened as it is by a controlling body with limited accumulated finance and the lack of vision and ambition to emulate the country's deeds of the past.

"Ask not what your country can do for you," implored United States president John Kennedy, "but what you can do for your country."

As someone who has acquired dual citizenship in the United States, Anderson, no doubt, is well versed with the late president's immortalised plea. Yet he chooses not to make what he describes as "major sacrifices" to further his interests in individual tournaments in which he has earned in the region of R70 million.

Ironically this sentiment might not construe a sacrifice at all in view of the fact that he could conceivably have become a national sporting hero had he achieved heroic feats in Davis Cup competition - something - well within the realms of talent he possesses.

Anderson claims that playing in the Davis Cup would affect his preparation and performances in tennis's blue riband  grand slam tournaments, but the Davis Cup rounds are invariably scheduled after the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon and the United States Open.

And players  of the calibre of world number one Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka have managed it pretty well.

Because of Anderson's decision regarding Davis Cup participation, he will also not be eligible to represent South Africa in next year's Olympic Games in Brazil in accordance with an ITF ruling.

However, what he may have got right was the damning criticism of Tennis South Africa's duplicity when he  announced his indefinite non-availability for future Davis Cup events following the ambiguous, distorted release by the national body this week under a misleading headline "Anderson commits to South Africa."

What  Anderson seemingly fails to appreciate is that he is not being asked to represent a group of moribund TSA officials in the Davis Cup, but 55 million South Africans.

Meanwhile, TSA has not as much as had the gumption or whatever it takes to reply to Anderson's blistering attack, with president and acting CEO Gavin Crookes continually "unavailable" to comment.

In contrast, legendary former South African Davis Cup player Abe Segal has succinctly proclaimed he was prepared to "give an arm and a leg" to play in the Davis Cup.

Anderson gives the impression he would give an arm and a leg not to play in the Davis Cup!

Read more on:    kevin anderson  |  tennis

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