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Local victory for Henning, Mexico runners-up spot for Anderson

South African tennis ace Kevin Anderson’s success is having a good influence on the country’s highest world ranked junior, Philip Henning.

Bloemfontein’s Henning woke up Saturday morning and while preparing for his final of the international Brooklyn Union Axnosis ITF event in Pretoria, heard the news that Anderson had won through to the ATP final in Acapulco, Mexico.

’Kevin is such a good player, I look up to him and when I heard he had won I was inspired for my final.’

And inspired Henning sure was in the boys’ singles final, where he dominated against seventh seed Mate Voros of Hungary. The top seeded South African needed only 65 minutes to win the final 6-2 6-2.  It was Henning’s second Grade 3 (International Tennis Federation) ITF title win and seventh overall international junior title.

Last year, Henning (part of Team SA at the AUSC Region 5 Games in Angola in late 2016) was awarded a wild-card into the same event and reached the semi-final. This year he was the tournament favourite and failed to drop a set all week in winning the title.

‘I am very happy with the win. The week started slowly for me and I struggled in the first few matches with my timing due to the speed of the courts. In the quarter-finals against Charl Morgan in the second set I finally got it all together and felt good finishing that match, the semis and finals. I worked hard all week and remained dedicated, that to me is the key to my success’ said Henning.

Henning, ranked 52nd on the world junior ranking was given bonus news after winning the final that the ITF had nominated him for an international junior grant to assist him with his career, ‘What a bonus after winning Saturday to hear I have been given this grant. I am most grateful to the ITF and Tennis South Africa for nominating me, it sure will help me a lot.’

The 17-year-old said that like his inspiration, Kevin Anderson, he planned to go to college in the US after completing his matric at Grey College Bloemfontein and play the challenging NCAA competition and get his degree, ‘If Kevin could turn pro after studying and playing in the USA so can I. That’s the route I want to follow and hopefully I will be as successful as Kevin is in my professional career after securing a degree,’ said Henning.

Henning comes from a tennis rich family with his mother Karlien a former provincial player and his uncle Gustav Fichardt a former professional player and now leading coach and owner of the Gustav Fichardt Tennis Academy in the Free State capital where Henning trains and is coached by MC Olivier. Fichardt is married to the sister of former SA great Amanda Coetzer, Isabel Coetzer,

‘I’m blessed to come from a family where tennis runs deep. I get great support and advise as the family understand the challenges and sacrifices that need to be made. My brother Gerard old and part of the SA Squad and we both inspire each other and practice with each other back home.’

In the girls’ singles final, Switzerlands’ Joanne Zuger lifted the title. In the final, the third seeded junior needed under an hour to beat second seeded Victoria Allen of Great Britain 6-4 6-2. Zuger, who last year at the same tournament lost the final to her older sister Sina Zuger said she was delighted to go one better this year.

‘I really did well at this tournament last year and enjoyed the hospitality and conditions. So I decided to come back and do better and win the tournament, and I did, I am so happy. ‘

Zuger lost only one set all week in the five matches played, and that set lost was in the semi-finals when she shocked the top seed Hannah Viller Moller of Denmark 6-2 6-7(3) 6-1.

‘I stuck to my game plan all week, played aggressive and used the high altitude to my advantage’ said Zuger following victory.

The boys’ doubles went to South Africans Lleyton Cronje and Christiaan Worst. Cronje and Worst beat second seeds and fellow countrymen Pierre Malan and Charl Morgan 6-3 6-3 in the final.

In a consolation after losing the singles final, Victoria Allen together with singles champion Zuger won the doubles title. Allen and Zuger beat second seeds Fanni Gescek (Hungary) and Hannah Viller Moller (Denmark) in a marathon 7-5 1-6 10-8 battle.


– Meanwhile Anderson went down in the ATP Mexican Open final on Saturday evening.

He lost to Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro in straight sets, 6-4 6-4. It was Del Potro’s first title of the year and his seventh straight victory over Anderson.

The 29-year-old Del Potro recorded his 21st career ATP title but this is one of his biggest in years and the earliest he has hoisted a trophy since the 2014 season.

Defeat means Anderson’s eight-match winning streak has come to an end after lifting a title at the New York Open.

Picture of ITF Pretoria winners Henning and Zuger and Anderson courtesy of BLD Communications and that of Anderson from ATP World Tour