Johannesburg - South Africa’s top tennis player Kevin Anderson’s superb form has rubbed off on to junior champion Philip Henning.
When Anderson reached the final of the Mexico Open last weekend, Henning (17) was also gearing up for his own final – the international Brooklyn Union Axnosis tournament in Pretoria.
He woke up on Saturday morning and, while preparing for his big day, he heard the news that Anderson had made his way through to the ATP final in Acapulco, Mexico.
“Kevin is such a good player,” said the youngster. “I look up to him and when I heard he had won, I was inspired.”
Henning won the boys’ singles match, in which he dominated seventh-seed Mate Voros of Hungary. The top seeded South African needed only 65 minutes to win the final 6-2, 6-2. It was Henning’s second Grade 3 International Tennis Federation (ITF) title win and his seventh overall international junior title.
“I’m very happy with the win. The week started slowly for me, and I struggled in the first few matches with my timing because of the speed of the courts. I worked hard all week and remained dedicated. That, to me, is the key to my success,” he said.
Henning, ranked 52nd on the world junior rankings, is one of 15 players from 13 countries who have been selected to receive the first ITF International Junior Player grants.
Last weekend, the ITF announced the new programme, which will provide funding of $325 000 (R3.9 million) to selected players from around the world. It aims to help them make the transition from the junior game to the professional circuit.
“What a bonus after winning on Saturday to hear I have been awarded this grant. I am most grateful to the ITF and Tennis SA for nominating me. It will sure help me a lot,” said Henning.
He will receive a guaranteed $12 500 in grants.
At the end of the day, Anderson lost 6-4, 6-4 to Juan Martín del Potro of Argentina, who was ranked ninth before the match and moved a notch higher after winning.
The South African has lost seven times to his Argentine counterpart.
Anderson is now world number nine, followed by American Jack Sock in 10th place.