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TSA boosted by Kev’s rocket fuel

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Kevin Anderson's unexpected run to the final of the US Open has boosted Tennis South Africa's development innitiatives

WRAPPED UP: Rafael Nadal of Spain (right) celebrates with the championship trophy after defeating Kevin Anderson of South Africa to win the US Open. Picture: EPA

Tennis South Africa (TSA) is accelerating its development initiatives as it seeks to take advantage of the attention the sport is currently garnering in the wake of Kevin Anderson’s unexpected run to the final of the US Open.

Though he fell short in that match on Sunday night to one of the sport’s all time greats, Rafael Nadal, Anderson’s achievement is worthy of celebration and TSA is right to jump on the bandwagon, even if it means, as the organisation’s CEO, Richard Glover, said yesterday, that some of its plans have to be brought forward.

“To be honest, TSA would be better prepared to leverage on Kevin’s success in 12 months time, rather than now, but we are not complaining. Kevin’s success at the US Open could prove to be rocket fuel for our sport it is now up to TSA to finish building that rocket,” said Glover.

Glover said the first of a number of Development Centres will be opened in the Western Cape next month with others to follow in Gauteng and the Eastern Cape. Moreover, next month, squads in age groups ranging from 12 to 18 will be selected to attend regular training camps, where they will work with some of the country’s top coaches as part of individual training programmes designed to develop them as players.

Even without Anderson’s attention-grabbing run in New York, Glover said tennis in South Africa was starting to turn around its fortunes having signed new sponsorships, which will help to create monthly financial packages for the Davis Cup and Fed Cup teams. Lessons were also taken from how TSA, which for years was beset by administrative in-fighting, helped and did not help Anderson in his growth as a young player.

“Having spoken to Kevin, his mother, as well as several TSA stalwarts, who have been in the system for years, I have come to conclusion that – while our federation has supported Kevin more than most people realise, on balance we have not supported him enough,” said Glover. “In short, both he and his family have made huge sacrifices to get him to where he is today.

“This is their triumph – not ours.”

Anderson picked up a runners-up cheque of about R23.6 million for his fortnight’s work at Flushing Meadows and rose to No 15 on the ATP rankings list released yesterday.

He is now targeting a place in the top eight, with a view to qualifying for the World Tour finals, which will be played in London in November.

“I feel like when I’m taking care of the stuff I need to, the ranking will take care of itself,” said Anderson following his defeat on Sunday night. “It’s great to sit back at the end of the week and see the jump that I have made and the spots I have been able to climb, something I can be very proud of.”