Top tennis returns to Ellis Park

2009-07-23 00:00

TOP tennis returns to one of its old hunting grounds when the Arena at Ellis Park hosts the key Davis Cup tie between South Africa and India from September 18 to 20.

Victory for South Africa means a re-visit to the elite World Group of the Davis Cup next year — for the first time in 12 years.

In previous years, SA Open tournaments, the ATP Tour World Doubles Championships and numerous Davis Cup ties have been played at Ellis Park’s fabled Arena.

“The Arena has for many years been one of the leading tennis venues in the country,” said South African Tennis Association (Sata) chief executive Ian Smith in a media release yesterday. “The refurbishment to the area as a result of the 2010 Fifa World Cup makes the Arena a viable proposition once more. We are delighted that the City of Johannesburg has come out to support our sport once again.”

Smith said the Arena is the perfect place of work for South Africa’s five-man team in their efforts to down India in this crunch tie.

“The venue is ideal as our players have indicated they wish to play this tie at altitude, which gives them an advantage in this very significant playoff.”

Most of the South Africans were either born on the Highveld or learnt much of their early tennis at altitude in Gauteng.

It has served as a marked advantage for non-playing captain John-Laffnie de Jager’s team, as most of the world’s players have little experience playing anywhere other than at sea level.

And it’s also a case of déjà vu with a difference, as 15 years ago SA beat India in Jaipur to earn their place in the World Group. On home soil this time, De Jager and his team-mates are already at “advantage South Africa”.

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