Davis Cup: SA’s chance to break into World Group

2011-08-09 00:00

CAPE TOWN — The South African Davis Cup team will have another opportunity to break into the World Group when they face Croatia in a promotion/relegation play-off tie at the North West University tennis stadium in Potchefstroom from September 16 to 18.

While some questions may have been posed as to why a tie of this nature has not been held in a bigger city, the previous tie against the Netherlands was hugely supported by the public in Potchefstroom, and according to coach John-Laffnie de Jager, the team are happy to go back.

“We had a great win against the Netherlands in Potch and had the best support in years at a Davis Cup tie,” said De Jager.

“It was school holidays so the kids and students were out of town. I think the support will be even greater for this next tie as the schools and university will be open.

“I know there has been criticism that we are not playing in one of the major cities, but we did play five of the last six home ties in Johannesburg or Pretoria and the support was unfortunately below par. What does it help to have home-court advantage and nobody in the stands?”

The tie is the first between these two nations and while South Africa are looking for their place in the World Group, Croatia will be attempting to stay in the top echelon. They have a strong team, the core of which is expected headed up by Marin Cilic, big-servers Ivo Karlovic and Ivan Ljubicic, and Ivan Dodig.

Croatia have confirmed that they will only name their side according to the rules of the ITF, which is 10 days before the tie starts, allowing them time to secure their best possible side for the tie.

“This will be a thrilling tie with a lot at stake and the ticket prices are more than competitive for top-class international tennis” said Ian Smith, CEO of SA Tennis.

Tickets for the Friday’s two single matches are R50, Saturday’s pivotal doubles encounter, R30, and Sunday’s reverse singles matches, R50. The price to attend all three days is R100.

“The on-site facilities with the hotel and gym are excellent, there is a tremendous sporting culture with university students who are all very supportive of our team,” said Smith.

“In addition, the infrastructure was already up there from the Holland tie, so it made sense to leave it there. It was crucial for me that the players were happy, which is of utmost importance, and it is nice for smaller towns to see our top players in action as it helps promote the game.

“Finally, from a development point of view, the kids in smaller regions do not get too many opportunities to interact with our top players so they are also thrilled when national teams come to their areas. The ITF inspected the venue last week and expressed their satisfaction on the facility giving it full approval,” said Smith.

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