Bad day in the office for South Africans
There was a lot to talk about as players fought valiantly for quarter-final places in the R1-million Soweto Open women’s ITF tournament at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Complex in this world-renowned slice of South Africa on Thursday.On a topsy-turvy day that made tennis hard work for the players rather than an opportunity to showcase their top-end skills, the last two South Africans in the singles draw didn’t disappear quietly, while the rest of the cosmopolitan field fared more or less according to form.
SA number one Natalie Grandin started well before succumbing to the swirling wind and on-song Mauritian Marinne Giraud 6-2 3-6 4-6, while her 16-year-old compatriot Christi Potgieter almost unseated fourth seed Anastasija Sevastova in a memorable first set before the Latvian regained her balance and left nothing more than crumbs on the table winning 7-5 6-3. And to cap a modest day for Grandin, the Durbanite and her partner lost their late-afternoon doubles match and with it a berth in the last eight.
For the rest of the fancied few, top seed Katie O’Brien of Great Britain sounded an ominous warning with a comprehensive defeat of flamboyant African American Megan Moulton-Levy 6-3 6-3 while her chief singles rival, the Netherlands’ glamorous Michaella Krajicek saw off a never-say-die Slovakian in Dominika Nociarova 4-6 6-1 6-3.
“I made life difficult for myself,” Krajicek said afterwards. “The second set was good, though, while the third got a bit ’screamy’. I got a bit emotional and so did Dominika, but I’m getting better every day.”
However, the real story Thursday was not about tennis. The talk of the tennis courts was Krajicek’s donation of R20 000 to a Roodepoort home for abused and abandoned animals.
Now playing out of Bradenton Sarasota in Florida, where she trains with her South African coach Allistair McCaw, the 20-year-old Krajicek said her love for dogs in particular began as a toddler at the family home in the Netherlands town of Delft.
“I was dog crazy since I was little,” she said. “I plan to establish a foundation for animals later on. They can’t talk for themselves, so they need us far more than we realise.”
Krajicek related how two days before, former Randburg, Johannesburg resident McCaw has spotted a local newspaper article about the animal shelter and its need for funds and the rest is history.
Getting back to the tennis, sixth seed Kristina Kucova of Slovakia, a player who as yet is not getting the attention her performances deserve, again did justice to her ranking in defeating France’s Anais Laurendon 7-5 6-2. She meets Krajicek in Friday’s quarter-finals and this could be the match-up of the day.