4 April 2008At 6ft 7ins, a tad over two metres, new South African tennis sensation Kevin Anderson knows what it is like to walk tall.Suddenly, though, after beating world number three Novak Djokovic, right now the hottest property in world tennis, in the current Masters tournament in Miami, the 21-year-old Johannesburg-born giant has been elevated to a position where he has his head in the clouds.“Yes it’s a stimulating and pleasing feeling to mingle with the greats of the game in the locker room and actually have them greet you when before they were only names that you worshipped from a distance,” said Anderson in a conference call from the United States.Rapid rankings riseRanked 122nd in the ATP world ratings before the Miami tournament started – largely as a result of his runner-up finish in Las Vegas, which made him the first South African in two years to reach an ATP final – Kevin’s father, Mike Anderson, who has been a major influence in his son’s career, has calculated his Kevin will move up to approximately 110 next week. Not bad for the new South African number one, who was ranked 550th in the world little more than five months ago!Ian Smith, the Chief Executive Officer of the South African Tennis Association, was full of praise for the youngster. “Kevin had an opportunity to test himself against some of the best players in the world at the recent SAA Tennis Open in East London. He is our most prized property at the moment and if he continues with such performances, we can expect much greater things,” he said.Anderson believes he gained the stunning victory against Djokovic by raising the level of his game to new heights, which has given him confidence he could hold his own with the best in the world on the tennis court.‘A learning curve’He lost his next game in Miami against 32nd-ranked Russian Igor Andreev by a whisker in a tense three-set battle and says his new-found status made it “a little difficult” to concentrate and repeat the level he had reached against Djokovic. “But it was a good game,” he says, “and part of a learning curve for me. I’ve got no complaints with the way I played.”He believes his tennis has improved immeasurably under the guidance of Illinois University coach Brad Dancer, under whom Anderson spent three years on a scholarship.“Areas I’ve looked at improving,” explained Anderson, “are playing closer to the baseline, instead of further back, and progressing more often to the net as a variation to what is basically a groundstroke game.”Playing styleBecause of his height, serving not unexpectedly is a forte of Anderson’s play, but unlike many of those who are as tall and taller, he generally plays from the back of the court.He is looking forward to next week’s Davis Cup tie against Finland in Finland, and his meteoric emergence provides South Africa with fresh stimulus for what is expected to be a difficult tie – with the Finnish side including the 26th ranked Jarkko Nieminen.Afterwards, Anderson has mapped out a programme as busy as that of any player, including Challenger events as well as other clay court tournaments on the main ATP circuit. His programme includes appearances in the three remaining grand slam events of the year after his 2008 fairytale began when he qualified for the Australian Open main draw in January.Improving ranking“I’m still in a position where I might have to qualify for some of these tournaments,” he said, “but I have no points to drop from last year and there is a good chance my ranking can improve further.”Anderson left St Stithians School in Johannesburg, where he was also an above-average cricket and soccer player, to finish his matric via private studies so that he could concentrate on a tennis career. Now, a short time later, that decision is paying dividends in a big way!SAinfo reporter Want to use this article in your publication or on your website?See: Using SAinfo material
8 July 2014Banyana Banyana began their preparations for the forthcoming African Women’s Championship on a winning note, beating Namibia 2-1 in an international friendly at Sam Nujoma Stadium in Windhoek on the weekend.Goals by Leandra Smeda and Disebo Mametja were enough to seal victory for South Africa’s national women’s football team, while Thomalina Adams pulled one back for the home side.Coach Pauw’s comments“The ladies know what is expected of them now,” Banyana Banyana coach Vera Pauw commented after the game.“The hard work that we have been putting in is starting to show. It was a tough game, Namibia has improved a lot. They are physical, but we managed to contain them.”ChangesPauw made two changes to the team that had beaten Botswana 4-0 last month, with Noko Matlou returned to the starting eleven and playing alongside captain Janine Van Wyk in defence, while Disebo Mametja started her first match under Pauw on the right flank.The Namibians were the first to threaten in the contest and managed the first shot at goal in the seventh minute, but the ball passed narrowly wide of goalkeeper Tokozile Mndaweni’s goals.Opening goalIt took Banyana Banyana almost half-an-hour to find their feet. Smeda then found the back of the net in the 29th minute after the South Africans executed a well- coordinated set piece from outside the box.Refiloe Jane had an opportunity to extend the South African lead just before the halftime break. She made good contact with the ball inside the box, but her effort went wide, off the goal post.2-0 leadA quarter-of-an-hour into the second half, Mametja doubled Banyana Banyana’s with an easy tap-in.Namibia pulled one back with 15 minutes remaining after a defensive error from Banyana Banyana, but when the final whistle sounded the visitors had taken the honours 2-1.Namibia will host the African Women’s Championships from the 11 to 25 October this year.Zimbabwe friendlyBanyana Banyana next face Zimbabwe on Friday in another pre-African Women’s Championship friendly on Friday at the Rufaro Stadium in Harare.“We need to play more matches before the African Women’s Championships as this will give us an opportunity to keep practicing what we have learnt,” Banyana coach Pauw said in a statement on Monday.“The ladies know what is expected of them. From here on we have to master what we have learnt. We need to get the team physically ready for an intense high level of play.”The draw for the African Women’s Championships draw will be held on 19 July in Windhoek. The other nations that have qualified for the finals are Namibia, Algeria, Cameroon, the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria and Zambia.SAinfo reporter
Irfan Pathan’s bowling is mostly about rhythm and confidence, and he is currently high on both counts as he gets ready to give his best shot at the Asia Cup.After returning to the Indian team late last year, the left-arm pacer performed decently enough on the recent tour of Australia and is now looking forward to the four-nation tournament that began here on Sunday with a Bangladesh-Pakistan encounter.Irfan, as usual, was business-like during the team’s first practice session here on Sunday, giving his all with the ball and chatting with coach Duncan Fletcher.After missing the Asia Cup in 2010, Irfan is eagerly waiting to unleash his banana swingers at the opposing batsmen.”I am looking ahead to the Asia Cup big time; getting the selection and the nod to represent the country is an honour.I am really looking forward with the confidence that I have gained in Australia,” Irfan told Mail Today. “An Australian tour gives you the confidence because it’s always a tough tour. The conditions there are different from those we play in at home. It’s always a challenge and a confidence booster when you do well.I will make sure that I do the same things in the Asia Cup that I have been doing – the hard work and thinking about the process rather than anything else.” The Baroda all-rounder played four ODIs in the tri-series in Australia and bagged six wickets. He also contributed with the bat, with his top knock being 47.advertisementA wiser Irfan, however, doesn’t want to rest on his laurels. “In cricket, whatever you have done in the past is done and dusted. You don’t have to look too far back, because if you do that, those things hardly matter. Those are the years gone by,” he said philosophically.”What has recently happened matters. And for me what matters is that right now is that I am feeling good. Of course, memories will always be there. It’s better to live in the present as a professional sportsman. And, yes, my confidence is good right now, thanks to the Almighty,” he emphasised.Irfan would be playing for the first time in Dhaka after a triangular series in 2008, but he is keen to adjust quickly to the venue, Sher- e- Bangla National Cricket Stadium.”If you keep doing your thing, no matter what the venue is, you will do well. It is different from the Australian pitches, but the key is to make sure that you adjust to the conditions quickly enough,” he said.India open their campaign with a game against Sri Lanka on Tuesday, and it could be Irfan’s 113th ODI. He has so far captured 160 wickets in ODIs and another 100, including a hat-trick, in 29 Tests.Irfan thanked India’s former bowling coach Eric Simons – who is also the head coach of the left- arm pacer’s IPL team, Delhi Daredevils – and TA Sekhar – who is also with the Daredevils and had helped him when at the MRF Pace Foundation in Chennai – for helping him correct his technical flaws, regain his rhythm, and gain confidence.