SA tennis eyes Davis Cup's pinnacle

2009-01-22 00:00

SOUTH Africa will take on Macedonia in the Davis Cup from March 6 to 8 at Emperors Palace in Johannesburg.

This Euro/Africa Zone Group One tie is vital for the South African men’s tennis team.

Victory against Macedonia will set SA up for a second-round tie against Belarus in May, which will also be on South African soil. That would put the country just one win away from playing for a place in the prestigious World Group, the premier league of tennis, next year.

This will be the second time Emperors Palace will stage a Davis Cup tie. Last year’s contest against Denmark saw South Africa win 5-0. SA went on to notch their eighth straight win in the competition when they defeated Monaco later that year, which ensured the country’s promotion to Group One.

The SA team included Kevin Anderson, Rik de Voest, Izak van der Merwe, Wesley Moodie and Jeff Coetzee, and was captained by John-Laffnie de Jager.

The remarkable fact about Macedonia is that while they have nobody of note in their team, they have managed to survive in Group One for the last two years. Last year they beat Latvia 4-1 in the opening round before losing 4-1 to The Netherlands in the quarter-finals.

“The performance of Macedonia proves the point that one can never take any team for granted when it comes to Davis Cup,” De Jager said.

“When sportsmen play for their countries they always manage to lift their games. While we are undoubtedly the favourites with the tie taking place on home soil, we must not fall into the trap of being complacent.”

SA Tennis Association chief executive Ian Smith said it was always great for the team’s morale to have a home tie in Davis Cup encounters.

“We are expecting the same wonderful support from the tennis fraternity that the guys experienced in July last year when we defeated Denmark,” Smith said.

“We are very proud of the players and are expecting great things from them this year.”

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