Johannesburg - Rory Chappell, considered one of South Africa's brightest tennis prospects in the 1970s and 1980s, has died suddenly in Johannesburg at the age of 55.
Chappell reached an ATP world ranking of 195. He burst onto the international tennis scene in 1977 as an 18-year-old when he lost narrowly to England number one Mark Cox in three closely contested sets at Wimbledon.
Previously he had achieved outstanding results in the Wimbledon junior event, and critics hailed him as a player with the talent to enter the top echelon of tennis players.
"Rory had a genuine power game and achieved a great deal during his years on the ATP circuit," said former South African top tenner and Gauteng Central general manager Mickey Styles, who was a contemporary of Chappell's during his playing career.
"But unfortunately, through various circumstances, he probably never achieved the heights his talent warranted. Now his premature death at the age of 55 has shocked everyone."
Chappell turned his attention to coaching after bowing out of tournament play at a premature age, and it was at the Rosebank Primary School, where he coached some of the youngsters, that he died.
A member of the school staff confirmed on Thursday that Chappell had died at the school - "but it was not while he was coaching".
A memorial service for Chappell will be held at the Rosebank Methodist Church on Monday at 11:00.