Lisbon, Portugal – Raven Klaasen is a proudly South African tennis professional who sees Davis Cup as an important part of his 18 years as a professional.
Klaasen who turned 36-years on Tuesday whilst in Lisbon, Portugal celebrated with the KIA South African Davis Cup team as he prepares for his 17th tie this weekend against Portugal.
In March 2009 Klaasen made his Davis Cup debut against the former Yugoslavia at Emperors Palace, east of Johannesburg. The Capetonian spoke fondly of that first tie.
“I clearly remember going into that first tie as one of the nominated four-man team under the captaincy of John Laffnie De Jager. Rik De Voest, Izak van Der Merwe and Jeff Coetzee were my team mates. After Rik and Izak won the opening days singles rubbers and Rik and Jeff won the doubles the tie had been decided and Sundays reverse singles were dead rubbers. I was called on to play the first reverse singles and although a dead rubber I was humbled and proud to walk out onto court officially representing my country in Davis Cup, a dream come true.”
Klaasen comfortably won that singles rubber 6-2 6-2 over higher ranked Ilija Martinoski contributing to the 5-0 whitewash victory for his country.
Since that first tie, Klaasen has built up an impressive Davis Cup record over the past ten years. He has a win loss record of 3/1 in singles and 10/3 in doubles giving him an impressive 13/4 total win loss Davis Cup record.
For the past five years Klaasen has specialized in doubles and together with countryman Ruan Roelofse they remain unbeaten in the seven doubles rubbers played since 2014.
Klaasen and Roelofse will play a key part of the KIA South African Team going into this weekend’s Euro Africa Group 1 play-off tie against Portugal starting on Friday. Captain Marcos Ondruska will rely on his senior doubles team to secure the doubles rubber point for South Africa on Saturday.
“I am so appreciative of Raven Klaasen always making himself available for his country in Davis Cup,” said Ondruska. “Raven is one of the best doubles players in the world and despite his success on the tour of late and climbing up the world rankings he always puts Davis Cup as a priority on his schedule and has contributed greatly to the team and as a senior team player showing leadership and shared his invaluable experience with the new team members.”
On the ATP Tour, Klaasen and his relatively new doubles partner Michael Venus of New Zealand are in a strong position (positioned at number 6 on the team race) to qualify for the top eight year-end ATP Finals in London. The duo have enjoyed a solid season winning the title in Marseille, reaching the finals of Wimbledon, Toronto, Hertogenbosch and Japan and semi-finals of Washington and Auckland.
On a personal level, Raven and his lovely wife Celeste are enjoying their first born child, 10-month-old baby boy Carter and are based in the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town.
Pics: Reg Caldecott