SA tennis greats lash out at Anderson
Some of the country’s top former tennis players have hit out at SA number one Kevin Anderson who is again unavailable for the crucial Davis Cup World Group tie against Canada next month.
“I would have given an arm and a leg for the opportunity to represent South Africa,” Abe Segal said on Thursday.
Segal was considered one of the best doubles players in the world in the 1950s and 1960s.
“I considered it an honour to play in the Davis Cup,” Segal said,”but here is a guy who says he can’t play in a tie that could regain for South Africa a place in the elite World Group of the Davis Cup because he has a knee problem.
“Yet the same knee problem does not prevent him from playing in ATP tournaments week in and week out.” Gordon Forbes, Segal’s former doubles partner, believed the attitude of players towards representing their country had changed since his playing days.
“The Davis Cup was one of the highlights of the year as far as we were concerned,” Forbes said.
“Imagine if South Africa’s Olympic Games gold medallists in London had said ’sorry, we’re not interested in participating in the Olympic Games’.” Former Wimbledon and Australian Open finalist Kevin Curren said it was one of the regrets of his career that he was not afforded the chance to participate in either the Davis Cup or the Olympic Games due to South Africa’s isolation from international sport.
“Beats me how anyone can turn down the chance of serving both their country and their own career as a sportsman when given the chance,” Curren said.
David Cup captain John-Laffnie de Jager was disappointed that Anderson, who was ineligible to compete in the London Olympics due to his inactivity in the Davis Cup, was unable to play against Canada.
He understood, however, that Anderson was focussed on improving his world ranking on the ATP circuit.
Anderson has played in only five Davis Cup ties since his debut in 2008.
“I have to respect that and good luck to him,” De Jager said in a statement.
“My job is now to focus on the guys who will be playing and making sure they are ready to win this very important tie for us.
“Izak (van der Merwe), Rik (de Voest) and Raven (Klaasen) are experienced Davis Cup players and know what to expect.
“Nikala Scholtz was our top junior and has been playing great tennis for the University of Mississippi.
“This will be a great experience for him and an opportunity to become part of the Davis Cup family.” But De Jager has a mountain to climb, with 21 year-old Canadian prodigy Milos Raonic this week earning a place among the world’s top 20 for the first time and Daniel Nestor rated one of the world’s top doubles players.
Canadian number two singles player Vasek Pospisil is ranked 103rd in the world, with top remaining South Africans De Voest and Van der Merwe in 171st and 194th positions respectively.
The South Africans gave up home advantage for the playoff tie earlier this year, for financial reasons, opting rather to play in Canada.