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Chanel turns pro

Watch out Chani Scheepers… there’s a new kid on the SA tennis block.

Scheepers, our top-ranked tennis player, reached the fourth round of the French Open grand slam tournament at Roland Garos earlier this year.

But she’ll have to take notice of the fact that top local prospect Chanel Simmonds – an 18-year-old considered by most local fundis as the likeliest young South African to make the grade on the intensely competiive international circuit – has turned professional.

Sapa reports that this was announced on Tuesday by Simmonds’ South African coach, former ATP circuit competitor, Earl Grainger, who proclaimed his protege had “the tennis world at her feet – if she gets the right assistance and preparation at this crucial watershed stage of her career.”

Earlier in 2009 there was talk that Simmonds may go the international route after not attracting the interest of South Africa’s big sports sponsorship companies. Already Scheepers is based in Houston, United States.

Grainger said he was negotiaiting for Simmonds, who showed her exciting potential at last year’s ITF Sowetan Open at the Arthur Ashe Stadium in Jabavu, to receive specialised coaching in the United States before embarking on an extensive tournament programme.

Simmonds’ performances had already gained her a respectable 303rd world ranking before a two-month break from tennis to write her matric exams resulted in the loss of ranking points and a drop to a place in the mid-300s.

“But she is already back in harness,” revealed Grainger, “and recently won both the singles and doubles at an ITF tournament staged in Egypt.”The tennis world is her oyster,” he added, “something that is long overdue in a young South African player.”


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