ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
This was held at the Old Edwardian Club last Wednesday and our sincere thanks to those who came to represent their clubs. From the Executive’s point of view, the meeting was an opportunity to advise you all of the progress we had made during the year and more importantly, of the plans for the future, particularly surrounding the developments at our Headquarters, Ellis Park.
With the new relationship with the Management of Coca Cola Park (formerly, Ellis Park Rugby Stadium) we are confident of greater co operation from them in a lot of matters surrounding our activities. Also the meetings we have had with Johannesburg City Council, Johannesburg Development Agency and the Project Managers of the improvements taking place within the Precinct, all of which leads us to believe that within the next two years not only will Ellis Park under go a total revamp, but the Precinct itself will be returned to its previous glories.
It all adds up to an exciting future not only for tennis but all sports within the Precinct. Some of you may remember that the area was known as the Johannesburg Sports Precinct, and we hope that soon it will be exactly that, with the current array of sporting facilities there being added to in the forthcoming years.
Your Executive for the forthcoming year is the same as last year bar one change. We are delighted to welcome Daniel Modisakeng as our Development Officer and feel sure that he will add greatly to that position. Daniel is well known to most of us, particularly those who have been involved with running tournaments, as Daniel more often than not has been the referee. If he brings to the position of Development Officer the same dedication and enthusiasm as he has shown over the years to his officiating, then we will see great progress in this area.
We can not begin with anything other than congratulating Rafa Nadal in becoming the world number one ranked player. Rafa first came to our notice when he played at Sun City in the Nike Junior Tour as a 14 year old (or was it 12, not quite sure) and brushed aside all and sundry. It was obvious then that this young man had talent and it was just a case of whether he would fulfil that promise. Oh, yes he did that alright, and now sits very comfortably on top of the world.
We can not let that go without paying tribute to Roger Federer, the man he displaced. Roger was ranked number one for 237 consecutive weeks, or four and a half years whichever sounds the longer!! His demeanour on court has been a credit to the game and his achievements rank with the best. Well, almost the best as Pete Sampras has more Grand Slam titles that Roger. At the moment. But can he or will he regain that top spot again, and can he go on to eclipse Sampras in the number of GS titles won? He is still on course for another at the US Open as I write this and in beating Thiago Alves in the second round he recorded his 600th career victory and his 29th consecutive US Open win. He is aiming to become the first man since Big Bill Tilden to win five consecutive US Open titles, and that was a long time ago.
Yes, he seems to be suffering from a lack of confidence this year in his own game, and his proven ability to raise his game to the next level when in trouble has not been evident. He has suffered some inexplicable losses which, perhaps, not even he can explain.
There is no doubt that the mantle Federer wore which gave him an aura of invincibility has been taken over by Nadal, and we have yet to see the best from the Spaniard. Suddenly the six years age gap between the two of them shows.
Whether he can regain the top spot may all boil down to how desperately he wants or needs that kudos. Is the will still there? Is the hunger still there? If so, then yes, he could regain the top spot. It all depends on how much he WANTS it. What tennis needs is a healthy rivalry between the two of them like the good old days of Borg/McEnroe/Connors or Graf/Navratilova era to keep the fans enthralled. The gap between Federer and Nadal and the rest, seems to be widening.
…..to Rik de Voest for finally getting the monkey off his back. You may recall that he lost in the final qualifying round of both the French and Wimbledon, so when faced with another third round qualifying match at the US Open his heart must have been in his mouth. But no problems as he sailed through that match dropping just three games and finally made it to the main draw. There he met another qualifier, Rui Machado in the first round but lost in straight sets.
Kevin Anderson, our top ranked player did not get past the first round of the qualifying event losing rather disappointingly to a player ranked 248th in the world. Not the sort of result we are looking for from our number 1 player.
…….to Bedfordviews Chantel Simmonds who has been accepted into the Junior event at the US Open. Not only is this a huge step forward for any junior but also an incredible achievement for Chantel who is only 15, and seems well on track to be a future star of South African tennis.
In fact there are three South African junior girls who have been accepted into the draw, and I believe, that this is the first time we have had that high a number. Well done, the girls but where are the boys?
Our summer leagues have started and the mens Bundes League had to accommodate two events within the Precinct and were played on a Sunday morning but as from this week end, these matches will be played in the correct time slot of Saturday afternoon. The early front runners are Bedfordview A, the current champions, and German Club while Marks Park A ladies will have Bedfordview as their main challengers. It is good to see that our National Under 18 girl champion Kaylea Sher is playing in this years event for German Club.
Entry forms for the Mixed League, which will take place in October, have been sent out. Should any club not have received an entry, then please contact the office and speak to Wendy or Mickey.
A very successful Slazenger Mini Series was held at Ellis Park earlier in the month with 216 entries. Gauteng Central players did well with Chad Richard winning the boys under 12: Tremayne Mitchell the boys under 14: Thomas Wewege being runner up in the boys under 16 and Francesca Bernes winning the girls under16.
The SA National Junior Championships take place in Bloemfontein at the end of September in the school holidays, and to all the Gauteng Central players that are going down we wish them good luck and good tennis.
The Slazenger Open will be staged over two weekends in October at Ellis Park. Notices have been sent to the clubs and we ask you to ensure that your top players are aware of this event. There will be mens and ladies singles and doubles and we certainly hope to have the cream of the crop playing.
This tournament was originally the Southern Transvaal Open, and next time you are at Ellis Park have at look at the Roll of Honour for this event over the years. The winners read like a Who’s Who of former South African greats. Oh, to be able to recapture those days, but with the new re vamped facilities that we hope will be in place within the next two years, there is no reason why we can not return to those heady wonderful days of the top players entering this event.