Raven Klaasen headlines SA Davis Cup charge in Luxembourg, Lloyd Harris sits out

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Raven Klaasen. (Photo supplied by Tennis SA)
Raven Klaasen. (Photo supplied by Tennis SA)

Doubles specialist Raven Klaasen will spearhead the South African Davis Cup team in Luxembourg next month.

The World Group II playoff tie will take place in Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg on 4 and 5 February.

Klaasen, the country's highest-ranked doubles player at No 56 in the world, will lead a squad which includes emerging South African tennis stars Kris van Wyk (26 years old), Alec Beckley (21) and Devin Badenhorst (18), all of whom will be making their debuts in the international team competition.

South Africa's top-ranked singles player, Lloyd Harris, has made himself unavailable as he recovers from a wrist injury, while talented young gun Khololwam Montsi is also unavailable.

READ | SA duo Harris and Klaasen bow out Australian Open 3rd round

"I'm very excited about the guys I've put together for this tie because, for the first time in a long time, South Africa currently have four players in the top 1000," SA captain Christo Van Rensburg said in a statement.

"Raven Klaasen has a lot of experience. He's still out there on the tour and still playing really good doubles."

Van Wyk is the highest-ranked singles player in the squad at world No 514.

"Kris van Wyk has won two tournaments in the last three months, reached one semi-final and five quarter-finals," Van Rensburg added.

"He had an incredible end to the 2022 season and I'm so excited to see him ranked No 514 in the world and getting ready to crack the top 500."

Beckley also had an impressive 2022 season, winning his first ITF pro title in Egypt at the M15 Sharm ElSheikh.

"Alec Beckley also had an incredible end of the year. In the last three months he won a tournament and reached six quarter-finals,” Van Rensburg continued.

"Kris and Alec are playing full time overseas, grinding it out, and I look forward to seeing them playing in the green and gold."

SA team (singles/doubles world ranking):

Raven Klaasen (NA/56)

Kris van Wyk (514/925)

Alec Beckley (695/848)

Devin Badenhorst (1 720/NA)

Captain - Christo van Rensburg

Teenager Badenhorst looks unlikely to play n the tie, but Van Rensburg is eager to give him an opportunity to work with the rest of the national squad.

"Devin Badenhorst has a big game. I've heard a lot about this kid and he's going to be special for South Africa," the SA captain said.

"He's been called up, and I'm not announcing how the team is going to play until we get there, but it's a great opportunity for Devin to be part of this group."

The winner of the World Group II playoff tie between South Africa and Luxembourg will compete in the World Group II division later this year, while the loser will be relegated to Regional Group III events.

In their only previous Davis Cup tie against Luxembourg, South Africa earned a 5-0 victory in a Euro/Africa Group II clash in Centurion in 2016.

"I'm looking forward to this tie. It will be indoors, and we don't know the speed of the court or the balls, but it will be very competitive because we are playing against people who are ranked similarly to our players,” Van Rensburg said.

"Luxembourg have very good indoor players, so when we get there, I hope our players will adapt quickly. We are arriving the weekend before, so we will have enough days to get ready for the tie.

"I know we will have support from the South African people and I hope we can bring a win back so we can slowly move back to the World Group."

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