One of the gifts Paul Harris received with his farewell was a photo collage. The former tennis player, who took over as coach of the Dutch women tennis in 2014 and sat on the bench against China for the last time this weekend, has seen himself surrounded by two young players in photos. Tennis players still have a future.
With roughly the same group as in 2014, Harhuis played his seventeenth and final match in the national championship now named the Billie Jin King Cup. With a 3-2 win by Saab, the Netherlands prevented him from relegating to the Euro-African zone, the lowest level in the tournament, with Harhuis debuting as a coach in 2014.
As the winner of a double-match with China, the Netherlands can now prepare for a qualifying match in February. The winner of that game – the opponent will be announced later – will be promoted to the final of the BJK Cup, where the top 12 countries in the world will play. According to Harhuis, participating in that global group is the goal of the players and the tennis federation.
Five of six players are over the age of thirty
With a positive draw in the qualifying match, that could still work out. But the long-term perspective is not rosy. Five out of six of the world’s top 250 players will be 30 or older in 2022. It is unlikely that she will improve significantly. Their role appears to be over for the distant future of Dutch tennis.
To rejuvenate you, but with whom? In his last words as coach, Haarhuis puts her finger on a sore spot: “I’d like to see players of this age with a Dutch passport.” With this comment, he referred to Xinyu Wang (19) and Xiju Wang (20), the talented Chinese tennis players who made their debut on the Chinese team at Den Bosch. They severely shook the adult Dutch team in the empty Maaspoort.
The Netherlands has not succeeded in producing young players of this level in recent years. The question is whether this will happen in the near future. In the ITF world junior rankings, there are no girls with Dutch nationality among the first hundred players. The Tennis Federation could prevent that.
After her victory on Friday, Bertens was forced to withdraw on Saturday
And how long can Harhuis’ successor rely on Kiki Bertens (29)? The number 11 in the world has often said that he doesn’t continue playing tennis until the end of the days and now she also has a bad injury. After her victory on Friday, she was forced to withdraw on Saturday. The Achilles pain increased to such an extent that she was not able to play. On Sunday she registered for the championships in Stuttgart.
Leslie Patinama Kirkoff took Bertens’ place and lost to Ziyo Wang in three sets. Arantxa Ross made the match 2-2 after Xinyu Wang succumbed to the injury in the second set. The duo Rus and Demi Schuurs scored the occasional third round in the final double play. So it was still a reason to party.
The Tennis Federation is looking for a successor to Harhouse. Technical director Jaco Elling said he should be there on October 1. The players get a vote, but in the end he and Marjolene Nutin, the top tennis manager, decide who comes in. It is preferable to be a woman, but, as Elling said, it is first and foremost about quality.
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