Johannesburg - Following the South African Fed Cup team’s relegation to Europe/Africa Group 3 in Lithuania this past weekend, Tennis South Africa (TSA) announced that they will be rebuilding and looking to the future, with regards women’s tennis in the country.
South Africa failed to win a tie in the four played last week at the Siauliai Tennis School in Siauliai. This resulted in South Africa being relegated into the Europe/Africa Group 3 for 2018.
Earl Grainger, South African Fed Cup captain, said that as disappointing as the week was for him and his team, the players put in every possible effort but were outclassed by better performers on the day.
He added: “The week was really tough, we played really good nations who had some very competent and experienced players ranked in the world’s top 100 singles and doubles, and the depth of the talent in our opposition was the big difference.”
South Africa, two years ago, lost their long standing number one, Chanelle Scheepers, through retirement. In her penultimate year on the Pro Tour, Scheepers made herself available for Fed Cup duty after an absence of many years and almost single handily helped South Africa to promotion.
“Chani was a star player and one star player can make such a difference. With South Africa not having a top 150 player, we are challenged and that’s why as much as it’s a disappointment to have been relegated, it gives TSA the opportunity to rebuild using our talented junior base and work towards the future and get our Fed Cup team into the higher groups,” continued Grainger.
Richard Glover, CEO of TSA, agreed with Grainger: “TSA has made some promising progress in recent months, but our recent Fed Cup result shows the long and difficult road we still have to walk in order to re-awaken the sleeping giant of tennis in the country. We are taking immediate action to put women’s tennis in South Africa back on a growth trajectory. We have some exciting young female talent in the country and we are going to give them the best opportunity to succeed. ”
Further to this, Glover revealed that TSA would be launching a women’s tennis task force to make recommendations as to how TSA can rebuild the women’s game in the country.
“This women’s tennis task force will consist of ex-players, current female coaches, an ITF representative and a high performance coach from another sport. We already have a high performance task force operating, which is starting to do some good work, particularly in terms of our junior tennis structures, but their remit is very broad - looking at all areas of high performance. The new women’s task force, while collaborating with the existing high performance group, will be specifically focused on women’s tennis in the country,” confirmed Glover.