Simmonds honoured with BJK Cup commitment award

tennis20 September 2023 08:30| © SuperSport
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Chanel Simmonds © Tennis South Africa (Chanel Simmonds)

Former national tennis star Chanel Simmonds has been presented with the Billie Jean King (BJK) Cup Commitment Award by the International Tennis Federation for her lengthy service to the game.

One of SA's top players throughout her elite career, Simmonds is the first South African woman to receive this prestigious accolade, and it is well deserved.

The 31-year-old retired professional is the most capped SA player in the BJK Cup international team competition, having competed in 43 ties between 2010 and 2022.

She also boasts the most victories (along with Natalie Grandin) after winning 33 of her 61 singles and doubles matches for the SA team.

"I'm extremely pleased and honoured to get this recognition for representing South Africa by receiving the commitment award," said Simmonds.

"I had actually not realised how many years I had played in the BJK Cup and I'm really proud to have represented my country so many times."

Simmonds won 23 singles titles and 29 doubles titles on the ITF circuit between 2009 and 2019, and she reached a career-high No 158 on the WTA Tour.

Though she retired from the professional game two years ago, she still turns out in occasional tournaments on the WTA Tour and she represented the national team at the BJK Cup Euro-Africa Group III tournament in North Macedonia last season.

Most of her focus these days, however, is directed towards her role as a high-performance junior coach at Barnes Tennis Centre in San Diego, California.

And while she no longer competes for the national team, Simmonds said her BJK Cup Commitment Award (presented to players who compete in more than 40 BJK Cup ties) had evoked some of the fondest memories of her career.

"The Billie Jean King Cup was always such a special week of the year for me, playing in South African colours as part of a team," said Simmonds.

"I was playing for something so much bigger than myself - I was representing a whole nation - and it was always so exciting. I look back at so many good memories over all the years with different coaches and players."