South African Davis Cup captain, Marcos Ondruska, has made no changes to his squad that will go guns-a-blazing into their Euro/Africa Zone Group 2 Round 2 Davis Cup tie against Slovenia from 7-9 April at the Irene Country Club.
The KIA Motors South Africa sponsored squad to take on the Slovenians, comprises of Lloyd Harris, Nik Scholtz, Raven Klaasen, Ruan Roelofse and Tucker Vorster.
The same squad faced Estonia at home in February and won comfortably 4-1 to earn their sport in the Euro/Africa second round. A win in April by South Africa will see them playing for promotion into Euro/Africa Zone Group 1 next year.
Tennis South Africa (TSA) announced that rising star Sipho Montsi would join the squad as an official hitting partner. Montsi of Pretoria recently caught the eye of Judy Murray, mother of Andy Murray while competing in the junior Australian Open. Judy Murray commented that Sipho’s was “one of the most naturally talented players” she had seen.
“It feels great to be part of the Davis Cup squad at my age and as well as being the youngest player in the squad. It is always an honour to represent my country and I know I’ll learn a lot from the senior players in the squad as well as coach Ondruska. I’m really looking forward to it” said Montsi.
Ondruska will be forced to trim the squad down to four players by the start of the tie, but he does at least have a plethora of riches to choose from.
Despite South Africa’s top player, Kevin Anderson not making himself available for the tie, Ondruska said he was pleased that the country’s second highest ranked singles player, Lloyd Harris was available.
“I am delighted to have our strongest team together again. All players have been working hard and have had some good success on the ATP Tour since the previous tie and I’m hoping that supports what I am expecting to be an incredible tie. It will be our toughest test yet. All the Slovenian players are very good players, having been around the Top 50 in the world. I am confident in our side and it should be a spectacular event for tennis fans!” said Ondruska
Harris, who turned 20 yrs. last month, has made incredible progress on the world rankings climbing some 250 spots in the last eight months. At the end of 2016, Harris won six consecutive Futures titles in Egypt and at home in Stellenbosch, and reached a career high ranking of 266.
“I am very happy to be representing South Africa again in another Davis Cup tie. I always enjoy playing for my country and I love playing in front of the home crowd.
The tie against Slovenia is going to be extremely interesting as we are going up against some world class players that have all been top 100 ATP players. I look forward to spending every second on the court fighting for my country and getting the job done out there.” said Harris
Ondruska said that Harris and Nik Scholtz were very good high altitude players and Tucker Vorster had also enjoyed great success at altitude.
A key member of the team announced is the evergreen Raven Klaasen; the team’s doubles specialist. Klaasen is playing the best tennis of his career at the age of 34 years. And after winning his first ATP Masters title (with Rajeev Ram) over the weekend, Klaasen is back into the world’s top 10 ranked this week 10 on the world doubles ranking. Klaasen is enjoying a solid 2017 run where other than the title in Indian Wells he won the title at Delray Beach, has reached the quarterfinals of Brisbane and Acapulco all with his American partner Rajeev Ram. Last year Klaasen captured two titles on the ATP World Tour resulting in qualifying for the year end ATP World Tour finals with Ram where they were losing finalists.
“I’m honoured to have been trusted yet again to represent my country in this all-important tie against Slovenia. I’m confident that I, together with my teammates, will do our utmost level best early next month at Irene Country Club in order to go back to the Euro/Africa Group 1. We’re very familiar with the courts altitude, which gives us more advantage.” said Klaasen
Ruan Roelofse has proved, according to Ondruska, to be “a great doubles player who performs well in Davis Cup competition.”
“I am very happy with the team to face Slovenia. It is a very experienced team selected” said Ondruska. “Lloyd, Nik, Raven, Ruan and Tucker have more than 16 years of Davis Cup experience between them. It is crucial for us to win this tie because we want to be back in group 1 in 2018.”
“Irene Country Club is a great venue and we hope to get lots of support from the local tennis supporters.” Added Ondruska.
Slovenia will be naming their side next week.
The KIA SA team and their current ranking positions: Lloyd Harris (274 singles, 777 doubles); Nik Scholtz (503 singles, 316 doubles); Ruan Roelofse (168 doubles); Tucker Vorster (633 singles, 269 doubles) and Raven Klaasen (10 doubles)