Kruger shows prom­ise in Paris

CityPress - - Sport - SIL­VER SIBIYA sil­ver.sibiya@city­press.co.za

Ris­ing young South African star Ber­tus Kruger showed the world that ten­nis in this coun­try has a bright fu­ture when he qual­i­fied for the main draw of the Ju­nior French Open this week.

His Roland Gar­ros sin­gles cam­paign came to a sad end when he was beaten 7-6, 6-4 by 10th-seed Oliver Craw­ford from the US last Sun­day. The 18-year-old said that he felt he had let him­self down, but was greatly en­cour­aged by his fam­ily, who were pleased with his achieve­ment.

“It felt like I let my­self and my par­ents down, but they were still so proud of me,” said Kruger.

He told City Press that his 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 win against Bul­gar­ian Leonid Sheyn­gezikht to reach the main draw was an emo­tional mo­ment.

“I was com­pletely shocked, I had no words to de­scribe it. My coach [Ross Nemeth] and I were so happy.

“My par­ents were in tears and could not even ut­ter a word. It’s a mo­ment I’ll never for­get.”

Be­fore the St Stithi­ans Col­lege pupil reached the qual­i­fy­ing round, he beat Ja­panese Toru Horie, a player cur­rently ranked in the top 50 in the In­ter­na­tional Ten­nis Fed­er­a­tion ju­nior rank­ings.

Nemeth was quoted on the Ten­nis SA web­site as say­ing: “His first qual­i­fier was a great dis­play of what he is ca­pa­ble of do­ing on court and he played a great match. He played a very good player and Ber­tus dom­i­nated him with his big fore­hand and serve from start to fin­ish.

“In his fi­nal round qual­i­fy­ing, it was a more tense and gru­elling af­fair. Theirs was the last match on the day and the rain came down at reg­u­lar in­ter­vals. There were two rain de­lays and that added to all the drama. Con­di­tions were very heavy and Ber­tus fought from start to fin­ish, and that’s what was needed to win 7-5 in the third set and qual­ify for the main draw.”

Although he has be­come a star on the court, Kruger was born into a rugby-lov­ing fam­ily.

“My dad and I thought un­til the age of 11 that I would play rugby. I still love the game and I al­ways watch with my dad.”

On what is next for him, the Grade 12 pupil high­lighted the im­por­tance of fo­cus­ing on school.

“The rest of the year is go­ing to be tricky with ma­tric [ex­ams], but I will maybe go and play at the US Open.

“In five years’ time, I would like to see my­self play­ing great ten­nis and still en­joy­ing what I’m do­ing.”

PHOTO: BLD COM­MU­NI­CA­TIONS

RIS­ING STAR Ber­tus Kruger put SA on the map at the French Open ju­nior tour­na­ment

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