Cape Town - It was not simply a failure to qualify for the opening round of this week's prestigious ATP Indian Wells Masters tournament, but for up-and-coming South African number two player, Lloyd Harris, losing 7-5, 7-5 in the first qualifying round against modestly-ranked American Christopher Eubanks must have been a bitter pill to swallow.
Eubanks is ranked 154th in the world and for the 22-year-old Harris, who has elevated his own ranking some 200 places to 92nd in the world in a matter of little more than 15 months, failure to make it even beyond a first qualifying game at Indian Wells, was an untimely and rude reminder of the imposing depth of talent he faces on the international tennis circuit.
Harris was seeded sixth in the 48-player qualifying segment for the Indian Wells tournament proper and joining the likes of the top world players, among them Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in a 1 000-point Masters tournament must have been a daunting, but exciting prospect for the burgeoning young South African.
In a battle between two unrelenting big servers against Eubanks, the stymied Harris, who recently added former South African great, Wayne Ferreira, to his coaching team on a trial basis, learnt how tough it is at the top in the tennis world - and this as much in a mental and temperamental capacity as anything, else.
Meanwhile, South African number one and sixth world-ranked Kevin Anderson, who will return to tournament tennis at Indian Wells after a month's absence through injury, has no first-round worries and goes straight into the second round with a bye as the fifth-seeded player.
Anderson also has what appears a favourable draw in the early rounds, but with the prospect of a possible intriguing blockbuster fourth round against new Greek sensation Stefanos Tsitsipas, who this week ascended to a world top 10 ranking.