22 October 2013
Tucker Vorster and Japie De Klerk are on cloud nine after both players received a call from South African Davis Cup captain, John-Laffnie De Jager, requesting their availability for the forthcoming Davis Cup tie against Russia.
Vorster and De Klerk jetted into the Russian capital on Sunday with the rest of the South African Davis Cup squad and shortly after arrival were hard at work in the Olympic Tennis Stadium preparing for this coming weekend’s tie.
It takes place in Moscow from 25 to 27 October and is one of the most important challenges the South African team has faced in years. They have to beat Russia to remain in Euro/Africa Group 1. If they lose, they will slip into Group 2 and once down in that Group the road back to Group 1 is a long and tough one.
De Jager is without his top six choices due to unavailability, injuries and personal reasons.
Raven Klaasen, the country’s top world ranked doubles player is available and rising star Dean O’Brien, who was chosen for the Slovenian tie two months ago but didn’t make the final line-up for that tie, also confirmed his availability for the clash with Russia.
De Jager then made a call to select Vorster and De Klerk and both players jumped at the opportunity.
An honour and a privilege
Vorster, from Pretoria, is currently in Great Britain playing on the Futures Circuit. He said it was an honour and a privilege to be representing his country.
“From a young age it has been a dream and a goal to play Davis Cup, so I am very thankful and fortunate for this amazing opportunity and incredibly excited to experience my first tie against world class players,” he said in a statement on Monday.
Now aged 25, Vorster represented South Africa for the first time at the age of 14. “I played in the Junior World Championships in France, as well as the African Junior Championships in Tunisia,” the former winner of the South African Junior Nationals in the boys’ under-18 age group said.
After his junior years, he played four years of US college tennis at The University of Mississippi (Ole Miss), where he also received a degree in Psychology. Since finishing college, Vorster has turned professional and has had steady success on the Futures Tour. He is planning on playing the ATP Challenger Tour from 2014.
De Klerk, like Vorster was one of South Africa’s most successful junior players. As an under-12 and under-14 player, De Klerk won the Nike Junior Tour South African Masters and represented South Africa at the International Masters in France and Spain respectively.
From Ashton, he went to school in Stellenbosch, and is presently at the University of Tulsa in Tulsa, Oklahoma and reached the semi-finals of the recent NCAA Championships.
‘A big surprise’
At only 21-years-of-age, De Klerk is ranked impressively at number 12 in the US College rankings. “I am extremely excited and honoured to have been picked to play Davis Cup for my country. I did not think that it was going to happen so soon in my career, so when I got that call from John-Laffnie it sure came as a big surprise for me,” he said.
De Jager said he was confident of his choice of Vorster and De Klerk for the South African team. “Tucker has been knocking on the Davis Cup door for some time. He has impressed on the Futures Circuit and can play solid singles and doubles, which is important for our team.
‘A team for the future’
“Japie is playing great tennis and proved his worth by reaching the last four of the tough NCAA Champs. Exposing both Tucker and Japie to Davis Cup so early in their careers is good for both of them individually and helps me build a solid, young team for the future.”
In a late move, the Russian Tennis Federation changed the venue for the forthcoming tie from the Tennis Palace of Army Central Sport Club to the Olympic Stadium, which according to the Russians is a “far better facility” and “was not available initially but only on Wednesday did become available”.
South Africa have approved the late change of venue. The surface remains indoor hardcourt.
Dean O’Brien, Tucker Vorster, Jacob (Japie) de Klerk, Raven Klaasen
Captain: John-Laffnie de Jager
Alex Bogomolov Jr, Andrey Kuznetsov, Karen Khachanov, Konstantin Kravchuk
Captain: Shamil Tarpischev