Izak van der Merwe out of Davis Cup team for Poland clash

2013-03-21 00:00

JOHANNESBURG — South Africa face Poland in a crucial away Euro/Africa Group 1 Davis Cup tie in Zielona Gora from April 5 to 7.

The Davis Cup team will be spearheaded by evergreen veteran professional Rik De Voest, top doubles player Raven Klaasen, Ruan Roelofse and Jean Andersen.

Izak van der Merwe has withdrawn through injury. He twisted his ankle at the weekend and will be sidelined for a few weeks.

John Laffnie de Jager will captain the team.

“Kevin Anderson’s unavailability for the Davis Cup has helped us increase our focus on development and pushing forward these talented and committed members of team Tennis South Africa,” said Tennis South Africa (TSA) president Bongani Zondi.

“We congratulate Kevin Anderson on his latest top 30 ranking and take pride that he won his first international tournament in South Africa in 2011 and we continue to wish him well.

“Regarding our next Davis Cup challenge in Poland, we are confident in our squad.

“If South Africa beat the Poles, we will then have another chance to qualify for the World Group proper in a playoff in September,” said Zondi.

De Jager said: “Poland are going to be tough to beat in their home back yard, but our squad have won away challenges before and we keep our hopes high for our team to pull off a surprise.

“While Poland has two quality singles players both ranked in the top 100 in the world and a top 10 ranked doubles outfit, our players’ ranking is not bad either.

“Our team has shown in the past they can win against all odds, so we will travel to Poland with a very positive attitude.”

De Jager added he was surprised that Poland as the host nation had chosen indoor hard court as their preferred surface.

“Hard court favours South Africa as we are not as comfortable on clay … we are excited about playing on hard court.”

Regarding the upcoming Fed Cup in Montenegro from April 17 to 20, team Tennis South Africa will be consist of rising star Channel Simmonds, doubles specialist Natalie Grandin, last year’s African Junior Champion Ilze Hattingh and Lyn Kiro. De Jager will also captain the Fed Cup team.

“In this Fed Cup, South Africa will be aiming to be promoted to the Euro /Africa Group 1 where we’ll compete with top European countries and their top-ranked players,” said De Jager.

“Last year we came close to promotion when we finished runner-up to Turkey in the round robin competition.

“This time we’ll go all out to win this round in Montenegro in order to be promoted to Euro/Africa Group 1.

“The unavailability of Chanelle Scheepers may be a bit of a disappointment, but having Chanel Simmonds in our side will give us a boost and our team, a mixture of experience and youth, will surely do us proud”.

Zondi said the board had asked TSA CEO Ian Smith to write to both Anderson and Scheepers requesting a final and unequivocal undertaking as to whether they should be considered regular and consistent members of Team South Africa’s squad.

“We need this to provide certainty for our planning purposes instead of planning from tie to tie. Once we get their responses we will then take Tennis South Africa forward with a regular and consistent team,” he said.

“We will also focus our energies on those players who always make themselves available for South Africa and build both teams on the junior up-and-coming players coming through the system.

“With the return of Soweto Open, our players will get the opportunity to test their mettle against their overseas counterparts.”

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