11 March 2014
South African Davis Cup Captain, John Laffnie De Jager has named his best possible side for their forthcoming tie against Lithuania at the Irene Country Club in Centurion, from 4 to 6 April.
With five of his first choice players not available, including world number 18 Kevin Anderson, the South African captain had to make some tough decisions in deciding who will wear the green and gold in the important first ever tie between the two countries, with the victor set to progress to a promotion play-off and the chance to advance to Euro/Africa Group I.
De Jager named his team as Rik De Voest, Dean O’Brien, Jean Andersen, Ruan Roelofse and Raven Klaasen.
De Jager said that he was satisfied with the team selection in a statement on Tuesday. “It is a pity that Nik Scholtz is not available due to college commitments, but we are fortunate that Jean Andersen is back from injury and Dean O’Brien is also back in the team,” he said.
O’Brien made his Davis Cup debut against Russia last year, but the Lithuania tie will be his first Davis Cup appearance at home.
‘An incredible experience’
“I couldn’t have been more excited when I heard from John-Laffnie that I had been selected to play another Davis Cup tie for South Africa. Playing for my country is on the top of my list for achievements every year, and to play at home is going to be an incredible experience,” O’Brien commented.
He warned that Lithuania were a strong side. “Lithuania has a very strong team. We will need to prepare well and be ready to battle. This is an important tie for us to take another step towards Group I and I am excited to help South Africa reach that goal.”
Jean Andersen, who has been struggling of late with injuries, also returns to the team. He has twice previously been nominated for Davis Cup duty and made his debut for South Africa against Poland away in Poland last year.
‘A welcoming bonus’
“I am extremely proud and honoured to be selected to play for my country. It has always been a big deal for me to play for my South Africa and I am excited for next month’s tie. It is a welcoming bonus that it is in my home city,” Andersen said.
The team was boosted by the inclusion of veteran Davis Cup stalwart Rik De Voest, whose wife Carolyn gave birth to their first born, a baby boy, in Vancouver, Canada, only last week. De Voest had previously told De Jager that he would consider playing the tie, depending on the birth of the baby.
De Voest is at home on the Irene Country Club courts, having learnt to play tennis there.
South African doubles star Raven Klaasen, who was part of the victorious team that beat Monaco 3-2 last month at the same venue, will once again spearhead the doubles challenge.
Klaasen, who reached the finals of this year’s Australian Open doubles, will be playing his tenth tie for South Africa. “It’s an honour to be chosen again to play Davis Cup for South Africa,” he stated. “I think the support we received for the last tie at Irene Country Club has really taken the Davis Cup experience to another level.
“I look forward to once again doing my part to ensure a South African victory. I’m very excited about our team but have no illusions about the challenge the Lithuanians will bring. It will be a good fight,” he added.
Ruan Roelofse, who has turned out four times previously in the Davis Cup for South Africa since his first call-up in 2012 against Slovenia, declared himself “really happy” to once again be wearing the green and gold.
He said his body and game felt good and he was excited about the challenge of Davis Cup. “It is always an honour representing my country. I am looking forward to playing at Irene Country Club again. It was an amazing atmosphere and setup there in February, and I’m sure it will be even better this time,” Roelofse said.
The winner of the tie will play against the winner of the tie between Finland and Bosnia-Herzegovina in September for a place in Euro/Africa Group I.
Tickets for the tie are on sale for R40 each. They are all for unreserved seating. Parking at the Irene Country Club is available for R20 per vehicle.
Advanced ticket sales can be made by calling Annette Terry at the Tennis South Africa (TSA) offices between 08:30 and 13:00 daily on (011) 442 0500 or by e- mailing requests to firstname.lastname@example.org.
TSA tickets can be collected at the TSA offices at The Wanderers Cricket Stadium and special arrangements for ticket collections at the Gauteng North Tennis Association offices in Groenkloof, Pretoria, can also be made.