No assistance for Simmonds

2013-01-08 18:58

Johannesburg - South Africans Chanel Simmonds, Rik De Voest and Izak van der Merwe begin the gruelling bid into the Australian Open main draw when the qualifiers get underway in Melbourne on Wednesday.

And for 20-year-old Simmonds, South Africa's No 2 women's player, it is a particularly daunting task without a coach to guide her through the preliminary stages of the lucrative Grand Slam event.

Earl Grainger, who coaches Simmonds locally said Simmonds is a better and more mature player than when she took part in the Australian Open last year.

Grainger who has been mainly responsible in shaping and nurturing her talent, lamented on Tuesday that despite concerted efforts in tennis circles and the business sector, he had been unable to secure sponsorship that would have enabled him to accompany South Africa's most promising young tennis player.

"I've been on the ATP international tennis circuit myself," added Grainger, "and I know what it's like to be lonely and on your own in such a difficult and challenging environemnt - particularly when you are only 20 years old like Chanel and being confronted by the world's best women players," said Grainger

He added that the South African Tennis Association had helped Simmonds in the past, but were not assisting her at the moment.

"If a similar situation existed in Australia, the United States, China, Timbuktoo or anywhere else, they would be falling over themselves to aid and encourage the country's top prospect," said Grainger.

South African Tennis Association CEO Ian Smith was not available to comment on Tuesday.

Simmonds, South Africa's No 2 women's player behind Chanelle Scheepers, dominated the Futures tournaments in Potchefstroom recently before undertaking her Australian venture - winning one of the women's singles without dropping a set despite international opposition.

The points secured in Potchefstroom, however, have not elevated Simmonds's current 180th world ranking sufficiently to avoid going into the Australian Open qualifiers.

De Voest, returning to major tournaments after injury had sidelined him for two months last year, faces the prospect of meeting former South African seeded Wayne Odesnik in the second qualifying round.

And the incentive for him and Van der Merwe to reach the main draw is a substantial amount of R70 000 for the players who lose in the first round.


  • andrew.d.adams.1 - 2013-01-08 22:54

    Its sad to see the state of tennis in SA these days. It would add such an exciting dimension if SA had a top 20 player challenging for a place in the quarters. Anderson has done ok but he lacks the all round game to reach the latter stages of a slam. - 2013-01-08 22:59

      Agreed with that serve I can't believe he is not in the top 10.

  • arthur.salvado - 2013-01-09 06:37

    Has SATA overpaid their officials, stolen the money? How come it hasn't got the money to support our players ? Any explanation please !!

  • slp.mulligan - 2013-01-09 07:18

    Support them so that they can then refuse to play Davis Cup, or Fed Cup, or the Olympics. This happened in the good old days of SA tennis. Wayne Ferreira and Amanda Coetzer also did their best not to represent their country and seemed to do so now and then and under protest. It's an individual professional sport. Lawyers, advocates, accountants, doctors etc study,and then go out there and take their chances with no help from an outside body.

      freddie.l.roux - 2013-01-09 08:01

      Then if they want support from the Federation whom I imagine is mostly gov. funded then they must include a. It's not clause in the contract obligating them to represent SA at the Davis Cup. This is not unique to SA tennis either. But because it's a predominately white sport it will never get the right amount of financial backing.

  • mark.singh.9889 - 2013-01-09 08:08

    SATA could not even secure the sponsorship required to host the Davis cup tie against Canada here last year. It is sad what has become of SA tennis. Since Wayne Ferreiras retirement we have not been able to produce a player of his quality. Anderson is our closest bet but even he has failed to break into the top 30.

  • slp.mulligan - 2013-01-09 08:20

    That's not really the problem. Golf is a white sport. It gets sponsorships from business, because it is popular and well run. The players past and present get involved. The worlds top players don't need clauses to get them to play in world team events and in their home events. Els, Goosen, Schwarzel, Oosthuizen etc do it and they don't do it because of contracts forcing them to do so. Tennis isn't popular, Supersport aren't keen on covering local tournaments due to poor viewer numbers, and as a result there are no real sponsors; a bit like hockey. So it's a bit of a Catch22 for the sport. To blame government is just an easy way out, and there are plenty of things which government rightfully can be blamed for. But my point is this: why pour money into an unpopular sport locally and nurture players who in the future will refuse to play representative games, like Anderson does etc?

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