26 September 2011
Former world number three Amanda Coetzer has praised Chani Scheepers after the current South African number one claimed her maiden WTA Tour title in the Wanlima International Women’s Open in Guanzhou, China on Saturday.
Scheepers’ 6-2, 6-2 victory over Magdalena Rybarikova in the final ended an eight-year title drought for South Africa. Previously, Scheepers had not been beyond the quarterfinals of any WTA tournament.
Before her win on Saturday, Coetzer was the last South African to win a WTA trophy, way back in 2003 in Acapulco, Mexico.
“My congratulations go out to Chani on winning her first title,” said Coetzer, from Los Angeles.
“She has proved to us all and herself her capabilities and now she has to prove to us all and herself that she can consistently compete at the top and win more titles.
“I have always believed Chani has these capabilities and have watched her progress with interest. I wish her all the best going forward and congratulate her on this important breakthrough.
“It’s great that a South African has once again taken the podium on the WTA Tour,” she concluded.
Scheepers had her easiest match of the week in disposing of the eighth-seed Rybarikova in the final.
Prior to that, she had battled through each round with three-set victories on every occasion, including having to fight back from 4-1 down in the deciding set to beat top seed Maria Kirilenko in the semi-finals. Scheepers also saved match point in her second round match against Hsieh Su-Wei.
Scheepers took just under an hour-and-a-half in beating her under-par opponent, who had won her previous two WTA finals. Her reward, on Monday, was a career-best singles ranking of 41. At the end of 2010, her ranking was 107.
‘Everything seemed to click’
“All of my other matches were really tough, but today was the day everything seemed to click,” Scheepers said after her victory.
“I thought I was hitting my groundstrokes well today. I was really consistent and tried to move her around. I didn’t give her a lot of mistakes. I played well.
“I don’t remember much about the match point. I was so in the moment. I know it was a long point, but it seemed so long ago.
“Every match before the final was difficult. It seemed like I was fighting every match and all of them were hard in their own way.
“I’m really happy to have won my first WTA Tournament. It meant even more, because every match on route to the final I had to fight back from behind to win it.
“I will definitely take a lot of confidence out of this tournament. Nothing changes next week, though. I will still go out and compete for every point win or lose. I’m also really excited at this stage of my life to find out what I am truly capable of.
“The title means a lot to me because I’ve worked so hard, to finally win one is really rewarding.”
Scheepers said to emulate Coetzer was really special. “Amanda has always been a player I have looked up to.
“In my junior days, when I lived in Harrismith in my native Free State, Amanda invited and sponsored Karin Coetzee and Noleen Uys, mother of former Pro Player Rene Uys, to go with me on a trip to the USA where I went to train at her training base, the Dennis van der Meer Academy. I was 12 and will never forget the influence that had on my young career.”
“Being the first [South African] since Amanda Coetzer [to win a WTA Tour title] is the cherry on the cake.”
Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo material