By Mark Etheridge
Team South Africa’s tennis contingent are quietly confident of adding to the already impressive medals tally here at the 10th All Africa Games.
The all-girl team will be represented by Chanel Simmonds and Natasha Fourouclas and coached by Bridget Visee.
And Visee is upbeat about the team’s hopes. “Our main rivals will be Tunisia with maybe players from Egypt and Algeria capable of causing upsets.
“But if Chanel plays to her full ability she can definitely go all the way. The Tunisian star [Ons Jabeur] is an excellent player ÔÇô she won the junior title at the French Open this year ÔÇô but she’s better suited to clay so that’s where Chanel has the upper-hand.
Jebeur is currently ranked 919th in the world and Simmonds is 247th so hopefully for Team SA the rankings will determine the winner.
“Natasha is still quite inexperienced but she is a a real streetfighter. She hangs in there and fights for every point so if she gets a good win she can cause problems for other players. These Games will be excellent experience for her.”
Simmonds, 19, is a seasoned campaigner. “I’ve played in Korea, Canada, the United States and Turkey recently. My best results came in Korea where I won two Challenger tournaments.
“I’ll know some of the players here because I played African Junior Championships in Botswana three years ago so some of those players will be here.’
Kempton Park based Simonnds, currently South Africa’s second ranked singles player, will travel to Indonesia after the games for two Challenger events.
Fourouclas, at 17, is two years younger than Simmonds and ranked 888th in the world. “This is my first All Africa Games and I recently played three events in Brazil where I got the second round of a $US25,000 and $10,000 event and lost in the first round of another $10,000 event,” said the Bedfordview based player.
The draw for the first round of the tennis will be made on Saturday evening. South Africa have medal chances on three fronts, the singles category, doubles and team event.