The 42 year old Coetzee, who originally hails from Okiep in the Northern Cape, will combine his current ATP Tour coaching responsibilities with the new position and is excited about the opportunity to oversee TSA’s high performance player pathway.
“I am delighted to have accepted this role. It is a great platform for me to give back to tennis in South Africa and to be part of the growth of the sport in our country. There has been a lot of progress within TSA in the past few years, but there is still much work to be done, especially to create future home-grown Grand Slam players. A key focus area for this role is communication and my immediate priority is to build stronger relationships with our players, parents and coaches. As a tennis nation we have huge natural athletic talent, but need to benchmark ourselves against the best in the world and then deliver on those benchmarks,” said Coetzee.
2019 was a golden year for Coetzee who guided the Colombian duo, Juan Sebastián Cabal and Robert Farah, to the number one spot in the ATP doubles rankings, in the process claiming two Grand Slam titles.
Richard Glover, CEO of TSA, believes the appointment is a significant statement of intent by the Federation.
“We wanted to secure a Director of Tennis who has a proven track-record of success at the highest level and it is not every day you can sign up a current Wimbledon and US Open winning coach. Jeff is a great professional, a clever strategist and a fantastic communicator. We believe he will play an influential role in moving local tennis forward, both on and off the court,” said Glover.
“While some might be concerned about Jeff combining his existing day job with this new position, we actually see it is a positive and innovative move, as it will enable him to network at the highest level of the game and help to build international collaborations, that will ultimately benefit our players and their coaches,” concluded Glover.
The new Director of Tennis role is a part-time, paid position and will focus on five key areas in the high-performance tennis space:
1. Strategic Planning: Helping to grow an integrated high-performance pathway for South African tennis players.
2. Relationship Building: Strengthening relationships and fostering co-operation with local and overseas based high performance coaches.
3. Communication and engagement: With elite SA junior players, SA players playing in the US College system, SA players playing on the various ATP, WTA and ITF tours, parents, coaches and relevant specialist TSA Task Forces.
4. Structures: Plotting a long-term plan for all national teams and squads.
5. Mentorship: Of promising young high-performance coaches in South Africa.
This latest announcement comes on the back of a strong year for tennis in South Africa, including the hosting of a new ITF Junior Grade A event (one of only six such elite junior tournaments in the world) alongside several other new international tournaments – including the SA Spring Open and Tuks International, the roll out of BNP Paribas RCS Rising Star Tennis (National Primary Schools Championship), the renewal of Growthpoint Properties as headline sponsor of the Federation for a further three years and the launch of a new ATP Challenger tournament – taking place in the country in early 2020.
A quick Q + A with Tennis South Africa’s new Director of Tennis:
Question: Jeff, firstly congratulations on your appointment. What motivated you to accept this role?
Answer: It is a great platform for me to give back to tennis in South Africa and to be part of the growth of the sport in our country. There has been a lot of progress within TSA in the past few years, but there is still much work to be done, especially to create future home-grown Grand Slam players.
Question: You travel extensively on the ATP tour – how will you combine your international coaching responsibilities with this position?
Answer: It is going to be tricky, but ultimately it will come down to time management and planning. Fortunately we live in a connected world, so I am always an email or a skype call away from the TSA office. That being said travelling on the ATP Tour also provides me with a great opportunity to engage with other countries and create international opportunities for our best up and coming young players and coaches. I see combining the two roles as creating opportunities, rather than creating challenges.
Question: How would describe your leadership and coaching philosophy?
Answer: Hard work does pay off and there is no short cuts in life. Success is to focus on goals and not obstacles.
Question: What do you see as your immediate priorities for 2020 as Director of Tennis?
Answer: Definitely to start building and strengthening relationships with our players, coaches and parents. I would like to work more closely with these key role-players and provide more guidance. We will produce more international players if we work together.
Question: If you can achieve only one thing in your time as Director of Tennis – what would it be?
Answer: To inspire our coaches and players to raise the standard of tennis in South Africa, because I believe great things never comes from comfort zones. As a tennis nation we have huge natural athletic talent, but need to benchmark ourselves against the best in the world and then deliver on these benchmarks.
Question: South Africa is a long way from the rest of the tennis world. How can we as a tennis nation overcome such a geographic disadvantage?
Answer: We need to use our world-wide connections to create more international opportunities for players/coaches. We have many South Africans across the globe with strong ties to local tennis. Many of these people are keen to help our tennis, but need to be guided on the best way to do this.
Question: What is your advice for any young South African based player who hopes to become a professional player?
Answer: Success does not just find you. You have to go out and get it. Never stop believing. It is going to be hard, but hard does not mean impossible.
Question: 2019 was a great year for you, what are your coaching goals for the new year on the ATP tour?
Answer: To continue our momentum from 2019 and be able to see Juan Sebastián Cabal and Robert Farah finish 2020 as the number one doubles team in the world.