Eilat, Israel – South Africa made a disappointing start to their Fed Cup Euro Africa Group 1 campaign being played in Israel on Wednesday.
Drawn into Pool B with second seeds Great Britain and Georgia, South Africa faced Georgia in their opening tie at the Municipal Tennis Centre in Eilat.
Georgia beat South Africa 3-0 which means that should South Africa have any chance of playing for promotion come the weekend they will have to beat the fancied Great Britain team on Thursday.
Madrie Le Roux, the South African number 2 opened procedures but lost to Georgia number 1, Ekaterine Gergodze 3-6 1-6 in a rubber that lasted 18 minutes short of two hours. Left handed Gergodze worked Le Roux hard throughout with the feisty South African failing to capitalize on several opportunities throughout the match.
Then it was the turn of South African number 1, Chanel Simmonds against Georgia number 2 Sophia Shapatava.
Ranked some 100 places higher than her opponent at 226, Shapatava played and powerful game moving the ball smartly and consistently to beat Simmonds 7-5 6-4. The victory secured her side the tie win.
In the dead doubles rubber, Ekaterine Gergodze returned to court and together with Keteryna Bondarenko to beat South Africa’s Illze Hattingh and Michelle Sammons 6-4 7-6 (6) and give Georgia the clean sweep.
SA Captain Earl Grainger said “being in a higher group , with players ranked much higher than our players , makes it tough on any day and opportunities must be taken when they present themselves. The fact that there were opportunities is a positive , converting is a game on its own.”
On Thursday South Africa play a strong Great Britain who is captained by Judy Murray, mother of Andy Murray. South Africa will be relieved that the British number one Johanna Konta has withdrawn from the tournament due to intestinal problems. Konta is one of the rising stars of world tennis having just reached the semifinals of the Australian open losing to eventual winner Angelique Kerber.
DAY 1 RESULTS OF THE 2016 FED CUP BY BNP PARIBAS EUROPE/AFRICA ZONE GROUP I
Selected results of the 2016 Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Europe/Africa Zone Group I played in Eilat, Israel on Wednesday.
Georgia beat South Africa 3-0
Ekaterine Gorgodze (Geo) bt Madrie Le Roux (RSA) 6-3 6-1
Sofia Shapatava (Geo) bt Chanel Simmonds (RSA) 7-5 6-4
Ekaterine Gorgodze/Oksana Kalashnikova (Geo) bt Ilze Hattingh/Michelle Sammons (RSA) 6-4 7-6 (6)
Pics by Allan Karam