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Scheepers’ French lessons
- Updated: May 31, 2010
Our No 1 tennis player, Chanelle Scheepers said she would take great heart from her performances on the clay courts of Roland Garros after being knocked out of the French Open in the fourth round.
Scheepers, who had to go through three qualifying matches, lost 6-1 6-3 to Russian fifth seed Elena Dementieva on Sunday after becoming the first woman from her country to reach the last 16 since Amanda Coetzer in 1997.
AFP reports that she will have to go through qualifying again at Wimbledon to reach the main draw but says she learnt a great deal in her defeat to Dementieva on the famous Court Philippe Chatrier.
“It was a great feeling, playing for the first time on that court,” said Scheepers, who is due to move into the top 90 in the world from her current 131st thanks to her last 16 run.
“That’s really why you play tennis. It’s to see how you can improve and get to that level. I started out a little slow and maybe a little nervous and against a player like Dementieva you cannot really play yourself into the match. I think the second set, there were two games or so that went to deuce and it could have just as well gone my way.
“You always want to improve and hopefully I can take things out of there and improve on that.”
Scheepers concedes that South Africans are not renowned for their love of tennis but hopes her exploits in the French capital will help to raise the sport’s profile in her homeland.
“It’s not much of a priority, but around the Grand Slams it will always be on TV,” said the 26-year-old.
“They normally just get the two main courts. I know up until today none of my matches were on TV. Hopefully with this result and with our men it can become better.”
She also called for the country’s junior players to be given the support they need to reach elite level. “I don’t train there anymore and I hardly go there,” she admitted.
“I know there’s maybe one or two juniors coming up that are doing pretty well and hopefully they can get the support that they need, because it’s really tough to do it without support.”
South Africa is currently abuzz with excitement as the country prepares to host the first ever football World Cup on the African continent from June 11.
Scheepers said it was a great moment for the nation but admitted she would struggle to follow all the action.
“The people are really excited. Hopefully South Africa can do really well and that will make the people even more excited. Hopefully it’s successful. I don’t really know the rules that well! But I’ll try and watch South Africa’s matches.”