2 April 2014
South African Davis Cup star Rik De Voest announced at the Irene Country Club on Tuesday that the Davis Cup tie against Lithuania, to be played from 4 to 6 April, would be his last for the country.
The 33-year-old confirmed that after 15 years as a professional the tie to be played this weekend would be his last outing in the green and gold.
‘A memorable journey’
“This is my 20th Davis Cup tie I will be playing for my country and it’s fitting, here at my home club in Irene, I play that tie and call time on my Davis Cup duties. It’s been a memorable journey and I am very proud in what I have achieved,” he said.
De Voest also confirmed that he would retire from professional tennis in the next few months, but before doing that he had to meet some on court obligations.
“My wife Carolyn [a Canadian] has just given birth to our first child Morgan and my life has changed. I am now a family man with new goals, objectives and priorities and my last tournament will be in my new home city, Vancouver, Canada,” De Voest explained.
Davis Cup award
The International Tennis Federation (ITF) announced that they would be presenting De Voest with a special Davis Cup award on the Saturday [5 April] of the tie, to commemorate his 20th tie in the competition.
De Voest will be one of only four South African players to have played 20 or more ties for their country. The others to have achieved the milestone are Cliff Drysdale, Frew McMillan and Wayne Ferreira.
Line-up not yet confirmed
Meanwhile, South African captain John-Laffnie de Jager said his team was well prepared for the showdown with Lithuania, but could not confirm who would be his second singles player after De Voest.
“I have told all the boys that the second spot is up for grabs and whoever performs best this week will be able to fill that spot,” De Jager said.
He has until Thursday to name his final four players from his five man squad. De Voest and doubles specialist Raven Klaasen are given choices, but the remaining two spots will be filled by Dean O’Brien, Jean Andersen or Ruan Roelofse.
Lithuanian captain Rimvydas Mugevicius said his team were adapting well to the altitude and were hitting the ball better each day.
Ricardos Berankis, the top ranked Lithuanian player, said he was pleasantly surprised at how well the court was playing and he was feeling quite confident after two days of practice.
‘A tough one’
“This tie is going to be a tough one,” Berankis reckoned. “South Africa have a good team with lots of experience. I don’t know the players that well, but we have a few more days to watch them in action and strategise accordingly.”
With only four players at his disposal, the Mugevivius said he had very little choice, but would decide on Thursday who to play in the doubles.
He is expected to select Berankis and his second highest ranked player, Laurynas Grigelis, to play singles, but could be forced to use both Berankis and Grigelis in the doubles too because his third and fourth players, Lukas Mugevicius and Mantas Bugailiskis, are “young, with very little Davis Cup experience”.
The official draw for the tie takes place at 10:00 on Thursday morning at the Irene Dairy Farm, just outside Centurion, where both captains will name their four players and their singles line up and doubles teams. Internationally acclaimed tennis referee and umpire Gerry Armstrong of England will officiate the draw.