6 February 2014
Former top 100-ranked tennis player Neville Godwin has admitted he was shocked when asked to coach Kevin Anderson, South Africa’s number one ranked player.
“I was taken totally unawares,” Godwin said in a statement on Tuesday. “Kevin called me in mid-December to ask if I was interested.
“Obviously I am excited and I’m looking forward to the challenge. I feel privileged that Kevin came to me.”
The opportunity to coach the current world number 22 opened up when his coach, New Zealander GD Jones, decided to take up a position in the financial world with PricewaterhouseCoopers in Auckland.
Godwin, who was ranked as high as 90 in singles, was only 1.73m tall and had to use his wiles in order to win matches. He played a solid serve-and-volley game and had an uncanny ability analyse his opponents’ games.
‘That was my strength’
“That was my strength,” he said. “I had to compensate for my size, and I tend to see the game slightly differently to others. I was always able to read an opponent and expose his weaknesses.”
Godwin feels there are a couple of places Anderson could sharpen up his game. Explaining this, he added: “I am happy with his movement and the way he strikes the ball, but I would like to help him with the placements of his volleys and I think his service percentage could be better.”
Focusing on Anderson’s volleying will be a focus, Godwin explained. “I believe Kevin is looking for a way to shorten points and in any case I think he’s a better player when he comes forward.”
The duo will undergo a three-month trial period in which they both will assess the situation. Godwin will join Anderson in the USA this week and they will practice in Delray Beach, Florida ahead of their first tournament together, the Delray Beach Open, which starts on 17 February.
Anderson won the Delray Beach title in 2012, defeating Marinko Matosevic in the final after ousting top seed John Isner in the semi-finals.
After the Florida tournament, the South African pair will move on to Acapulco, then to Indian Wells and Miami.
Aiming for the top 10
“To me Kevin has a similar game to American John Isner but he has a more complete game. If Isner could get into the top 10 then I see no reason why Kevin can’t,” Godwin concluded.
Anderson declared himself “enthusiastic about this new partnership”. He added: “Hopefully his diverse knowledge and experience will be just what’s needed to elevate my game to the next level, not to mention I’ll enjoy having someone to chat to on tour about South African cricket and rugby.”