Cape Town – “What a relief,” said Jeff Coetzee after the International Tennis Federation (ITF) lifted a provisional suspension for doping on Robert Farah and South Africa’s Director of Tennis was able to resume his coaching position with Colombia’s world No 1 doubles combination of Jean Sabastian Cabal and Farah.
“The ITF,” explained Coetzee, “accepted that Farah, who had not tested positive on 15 previous occasions, had inadvertently taken a banned substance without his knowledge and reinstated him immediately after he had been forced to miss the recent Australian Open.”
Farah and Cabal won the Wimbledon and US Open men’s doubles titles in 2019 and the ambition in their camp had been for the couple to complete a momentous four Grand Slam titles in a row in Australia and then the French Open.
“Naturally missing the Australian Open torpedoed that plan,” said Coetzee, “but we are still hoping for Farah and Cabal to retain the world No 1 ranking position at the end of the year – starting with action in next week’s ATP tournament in Brazil.”
At the same time, Coetzee, himself a former South African Davis Cup star, revealed he had already got into full swing and escalated plans to revive South African tennis in his key role with the TSA.
“Ironically,” said Coetzee, “when I accepted the post with TSA some six months ago I shared to some degree the misgivings of some that I might be biting off more than I can chew by combining two such contrasting and diverse roles.
“Instead,” added the canny coach and administrator, “the exact opposite has developed, with the one complementing the other as far as helping South African tennis is concerned, with my worldwide travels as Farah and Cabal’s coach enabling me to arrange meetings with officials from numerous international federations, among them the United States, Australia, Germany and Japan – with all keen to help our budding prospects participate in their various development programmes and tournaments.
“In this respect, said Coetzee, “I also had great meetings with the legendary Martina Navratilova and Judy Murray, Andy’s mother, and they were also enthusiastic about helping South African tennis in any way they can.”
Coetzee said he had shared ideas with two former South African greats, Kevin Curren and Wayne Ferreira, in “brainstorms” to exchange ideas on how to restore South African tennis to its erstwhile heights.
“I also met with Rafael Nadal’s administrative team along with TSA CEO Richard Glover,” added Coetzee, “and we discussed how we could incorporate some of our top young prospects into the King of Clay’s renowned academy in Spain.”